September 29, 2010

San Francisco’s America’s Cup Fundraising And Property Pledge

Pier 30-32 SOM Rendering

San Francisco’s pitch to host the 2013 America’s Cup now includes a promise "to raise at least $270 million from businesses and other sponsors" as well as "helping event participants to secure drivers licenses, trying to obtain federal legislation to allow foreign-flagged vessels for the event to stop in more than one U.S. port, and promoting the premier regatta with publicly controlled advertising space."

No word on what happens, or who's on the hook, if fundraising efforts fall short.

And once again, "Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration is proposing the free use of Port of San Francisco property stretching south of the Bay Bridge from Pier 28 to Pier 50 and a rent-free lease of 66 to 75 years and future development rights for Piers 30-32, an adjacent parking lot and Pier 50" in a bid to secure the race.

The Pitch To Sail The America’s Cup Into San Francisco's Bay [SocketSite]
S.F. promises money, land for America's Cup [SFGate]

First Published: September 29, 2010 7:00 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

The America's Cup would not create THAT big of a economic boost. If you want an economic boost, present a 75 year free rent lease to numerous business or cultural institutions that create jobs and tax revenue for the city. More people come to this for a MacWorld convention than an America's Cup.

Posted by: Justin at September 29, 2010 3:00 AM

Just do it! The tangible economic boost, and intagible boost to San Francisco's prestige and reputation is worth the risk. This is what private enterprise does daily; take a calculated risk for a return.

Posted by: marko1332 at September 29, 2010 9:44 AM

"a rent-free lease of 66 to 75 years and future development rights for Piers 30-32"

the solons are driving a hard bargain here

Posted by: bernalkid at September 29, 2010 9:49 AM

As long as "other sponsors" doesn't include taxpayers, I don't see a problem so far. Whoops, a free waterfront lease? Could Gavin be any more corrupt?

Posted by: EH at September 29, 2010 10:10 AM

MacWorld and America's Cup: two great events that go great together?

There is a strategic element here of trying to bring high end boating to San Francisco. The cruise dock idea sank, but with more boaters and attention to boating there might be more support for that and other such uses of the waterfront in the future. Right now the San Francisco waterfront is a greatly underutilized asset.

Posted by: Mole Man at September 29, 2010 11:22 AM

Would Red's Java House be preserved? I couldn't tell from the rendering.

Posted by: peon at September 29, 2010 11:45 AM

anyone who does not think the America's Cup does not belong in SF should pack their bags and move to contra costa county.

Yes, this will be an economic boon to the city. Tangible and intangible.

Posted by: anon$random at September 29, 2010 12:33 PM

"anyone who does not think the America's Cup does not belong in SF should pack their bags and move to contra costa county."

I do agree that we should try to get the America's Cup here.

I don't understand what that has to do with Contra Costa County. Will you explain? Usually people only tell other people to move to Contra Costa County when they complain about homeless or crime.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 29, 2010 12:55 PM

Sure, let them have it here...

Free rent for the event? Sure, why not.

Free rent for 75 years? That seems awfully generous. It's not like the area is never used as it is-- I visited the Russian warship that docked there this summer. Sure it could be better used, but that doesn't mean it should be given away. They better sink a whole crapload of money into it. Maybe a good deal for the city, I don't know.

Guaranteed $270m? Now it's getting stupid.

Posted by: Al at September 29, 2010 1:08 PM

Rent-free for 75 years does sound excessive and I think they are saying 66 years or longer, which seems like an awfully long time. The estimate is that $150M would be required for America's Cup to make the pier area suitable, so I see where they deserve something longer than a few years.

For the $270M, isn't that coming from race sponsors?

I would be interested in the details of the alleged $1.9B benefit to the economy.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 29, 2010 1:46 PM

For a potential economic benefit of $1.4 to $9.9 billion, the offset of rent received from a pier development seems to be a good investment. While the $270 million private sector contribution seems to be a wash, in terms of actual outlays, the lost economic benefit of the pier development should be quantified, as this will be the real cost to the city.

Posted by: tj at September 29, 2010 1:58 PM

I'd be interested in use restrictions for development of Piers 30/32 and 50. Does this mean that if Larry loses the ACup he gets to build a huge ugly mixed office/residential building? Oracle's new headquarters?

The $150M number seems high - for the cruise terminal it started at $25M and went to $50M - $75M after engineering inspection. Now it's doubled again - sounds like Bay Bridge refit style financing.

But even if that area turns into nothing more than a super-yacht basin it would be better than the dilapidated present state.

Posted by: ellbee at September 29, 2010 3:06 PM

Isn't that always the way it goes with retrofits?

The quote starts out low ... then costs balloon as it becomes apparent its impossible to work around the old stuff and/or its condition is way worse than expected.

After the process is complete, no one can figure out why they didn't just demolish the whole mess and start from scratch.

I should be a contractor!

Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 29, 2010 3:13 PM

"helping event participants to secure drivers licenses..."

Helpful advice to foreign visitors : the inept and unqualified need not bribe officials to receive a driver's license. This isn't Tanzania ya know!

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at September 29, 2010 4:14 PM

ellbee--pier 30/32 is used intensively about 150 days a year: parking lot for at&t park events, staging area for shore leave during fleet week, concerts such as vans warped and the kaboom, the AVP tour, mooring for ship tours, etc.

Most of the above uses would be lost in an america's cup renovation. Is the trade worth it? Maybe, but I wouldn't say it's automatic, and I'll be looking this gift horse in the mouth very carefully.

While the current pier looks like hell (sea of concrete behind a miserable cyclone fence), from the embarcadero one can at least see over the pier to the bridge, bay, and port of oakland.

Just saying be careful what you wish for--"underutilized" and not fully developed spaces (eg. affordable) are a major part of what once made SF worthwhile.

Posted by: Delancey at September 29, 2010 4:19 PM

"Just saying be careful what you wish for--"underutilized" and not fully developed spaces (eg. affordable) are a major part of what once made SF worthwhile."

Sorry, I don't understand how "affordable" fits here. Being underutilized and not fully developed makes things unaffordable. For example, if people were more easily able to combine lots and build multi-family housing, there would be more housing units, so prices would drop. This is true all over the Bay Area so we can have open space.

Posted by: sfrenegade at September 29, 2010 4:23 PM

sfrenegade, I'm talking commercial spaces and shared use open spaces, not residential. I expect if we discussed residential land use policies within SF we'd be in much agreement.

What I am saying is that crappy, cheap paved open space such as pier 30/32 attracts unplanned marginal uses on an ad hoc basis that end up serving the city rather well, and certainly better than any centrally planned use. Pier 30/32 is better located than any of the other such spaces (presidio parade ground, candlestick and cow palace parking lots, and parking lots south of at&t park). I'm not overwhelmed with the prospect of giving up current uses of pier 30/32 for the sake of a quadrennial super-rich men's boat race, even though I do enjoy sailing and its variants.

Posted by: Delancey at September 29, 2010 9:25 PM

Piers 30/32 are so bad they aren't used for Kaboom! anymore and the docking area for Fleet Week is a total waste of space since post 9/11 the entire pier is fenced off and empty for use as a security buffer.

"Valuable waterfront space" should be used for something more attractive and useful than a flat parking lot. Maybe even "maritime use."

I love hosting the ACup at these sites - it's great for everyone - but I have no wish to grant property to Larry Ellison and his heirs for the rest of my life w/o some idea of what they'll become after the circus leaves town.

OTOH, it took a visionary to fight for Pier39, and though it's probably not a favorite place for SS readers it's certainly been a long term boon for SF. Any idea what their lease terms are?

Posted by: ellbee at September 30, 2010 4:24 AM

Yes, Red's is a historic landmark and will be preserved. They are fully in favor of the America's Cup at pier 30-32.

If this doesn't happen, piers 30-32 and others will just continue to crumble into the bay. The only other option is to issue a few billion in taxpayer bonds which seems highly unlikely anytime soon.

Posted by: anon at September 30, 2010 8:26 AM

"pier 30/32 is used intensively about 150 days a year: parking lot for at&t park events, staging area for shore leave during fleet week, concerts such as vans warped and the kaboom, the AVP tour, mooring for ship tours, etc."

Not anymore. It was deemed unsafe after a truck partially fell through crumbling congcrete into the bay. It can no longer be used for any big public events....no kaboom, no AVP tour and no Vans warped tour. It can now only be used a parking lot or ship's mooring.

Posted by: anon at September 30, 2010 8:37 AM

Posted by: SocketSite at September 30, 2010 10:03 AM

Strangely or not, the Pier 39 master lease does not appear to exist on the Internet.

Posted by: EH at September 30, 2010 10:46 AM

I stand corrected about event use of pier 30/32--looks like things changed this year. It's rather funny to read the location complaints about kaboom at candlestick.

I think the Cole attack had more to do with the buffer zone needs of military vessels than did 9/11. But I'm not going to claim that a once or twice a year opportunity to tour a ship like the Bonhomme Richard or Varyag is worth holding up rebuilding the pier. I really hope we don't end up with another building walling off the embarcadero from the bay.

Still, this is waterfront real estate which means something hinky's gonna happen. Worth paying attention to it if only for the movie script/noir novel entertainment prospects.

Posted by: Delancey at September 30, 2010 1:42 PM

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