Piers 15-17 (Watercolor rendering by Al Forster)
“In 2006, the port and the Exploratorium executed a three-year exclusive negotiating agreement in which the museum would spend nearly $100 million to repair and retrofit the decrepit piers 15-17 and build a new museum. In return, the museum would obtain a 66-year lease that would enable it to move from the Palace of Fine Arts, its home since 1969.
As part of that deal, the museum stood to receive roughly $18.5 million in free rent from the port over about a 30-year period. But construction costs have escalated to $175 million, mainly due to increased pier repair costs, port project manager Jennifer Sobol said.
As part of the new agreement, the museum would get about $30 million in rent credit over a 50-year period, she said.”
Exploratorium wants 50 years free rent from port officials [SFGate]
Exploratorium: Embarcadero [exploratorium.edu]
Piers On Which People Can Play (Albeit More With Their Minds) [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Delancey

    Do it. And place the Fisher art museum in a neighboring pier.
    Don’t forget to locate the museums’ cafe/restaurants on the waterview side.

  2. Posted by DanielBurnham

    These structures are perfect for this type of public use. This area is easy to access with public transportation for most residents and tourists, and helps to allow people enjoy to the waterfront. Delancey’s point about museum cafes along the water is fantastic as well. The ONLY person that would trouble getting here is Fisher’s Bentley, but I am sure if he were to consider a location like this instead of ruining the Presidio they would give him a lifetime parking spot.

  3. Posted by ex SF-er

    what’s going to happen to the Palace of Fine Arts?

  4. Posted by Sb

    Right! The Palace of Fine Arts is a great place for the Exploratorium. Why move?

  5. Posted by Louis

    the strategy of a not for profit museum spending upwards of 100 MIL to go to a pier location – or anywhere else – is absolutely insane.
    even if there was a checkwriting benefactor, which there is not for ther ex , its still a horrible use of capital that doiesnt really benefit the folks the museum is trying to reach.
    they should just renovate there they are not. half the $$$ would have a much greater impact.
    The era of star architect / star donor show off museums may be nearing an end. many of the secondary inistitutions that followed this muse in ther last decade are starting to pay an unhappy price and it will only increase.

  6. Posted by LIberty

    It will be a great move for the ex.
    The new location will have more foot traffic, better public transportation and a facility that is modern and not dark and old.
    It will just be another signal the city is shifting it’s focus from the older part of the city to downtown and the water front. SOMA will benefit from this move.

  7. Posted by Eric in SF

    The Exploratorium has outgrown the Palace of Fine Arts, that’s why they’re moving.
    It’s my understanding that when you run the numbers, paying $XXXX upfront now in exchange for *zero* rent for 50, 66, or 75 years (I’ve seen all three numbers bandied about) is not a bad deal. Uncertainty about rent year to year is toxic to any organization and having the freedom to remove a constantly increasing yearly fixed cost is quite nice.
    Remember, rent ALWAYS goes up, and you just have to run the numbers with various increases over the rent-free period you’re asking for. A larger % per year increase realized over the longest time period makes a lot of sense.

  8. Posted by web hustler

    what about parking? and traffic congestion in the area already?

  9. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Right now that area is nothing but parking. That is right behind them main Post Office, right?
    There are a couple of wide roads into the region, as befits an industrial area, so I doubt that parking is going to be much of an issue either.
    Right now it is kind of tough to get to by transit though. Maybe they will run a shuttle from 3rd Street.

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