Pier 29 is a beautiful but vacant historic pier next door to the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal and Plaza at Pier 27. For more than two years, the Port of San Francisco has been working hard to solicit public input and engagement to create a lease opportunity for a new, community friendly, public waterfront destination there. The result is a proposed partnership between the local nonprofit SF Made and a private developer, Jamestown.
The Port began a two-year process with seven community meetings and four public hearings at the Port Commission to develop the request for proposals for the Bulkhead, which is the front of the Pier. Through that two-year community process, the Port developed objectives for the Pier 29 Bulkhead: create public-oriented uses that are compatible with the neighborhood; noncompetitive with other Port tenants in the area; and to provide amenities for the estimated 300,000 cruise passengers who visit the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 annually.
The Port limited the lease offering to 20,000 square feet in the Bulkhead — 16 percent of the total pier. The whole 123,000-square-foot pier has not been offered for improvement because the facility condition requires significant investment, and the Port has engaged in a community planning process to update the Port’s Waterfront Land Use Plan. Before pursuing a public-private partnership for development of this entire pier, the Port needs to update the Plan. Rather than leave Bulkhead boarded up, the Port decided to do something on a smaller scale. The result was the early activation of the Bulkhead, which means more public access and more waterfront activity sooner.
Throughout the two-year community process, some neighbors have expressed opposition to the proposal, but many members of the community have supported the concept throughout. The Port looks forward to hearing from more voices. This project, along with the Port’s seven-and-a-half miles of waterfront shoreline, belongs to all of the citizens of California. The Port takes seriously the commitment of good public stewardship of these state lands in public trust, and we believe the process behind the Pier 29 project meets this high standard of responsibility.
Some critics have described the Pier 29 project as a “mall,” but nothing could be further from the truth. A mall implies run-of-the-mill products that can be found anywhere. The Port is cultivating a small retail niche with our Pier 29 partnership, which includes SF Made, a nonprofit that supports and highlights goods small businesses manufacture right here in San Francisco.
We are committed to delivering a project at Pier 29 that serves residents and visitors alike and continues the legacy of other well-loved Port destinations like the Ferry Building, Piers 1.5 and Piers 3-5 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Elaine Forbes is the interim director for the Port of San Francisco.