November 5, 2012

That Pier 70's Show: Developer Lined Up For The Historic Core

Pier 70 Project Area

With The Port having selected Forest City to lead the central Waterfront redevelopment of the 69-acre Pier 70 site last year, Orton Development has now been selected to lead the rehabilitation of the six historic buildings along 20th Street which form the "portal" to Pier.

Pier 70 Historic Core

The rehabilitation of the six buildings which includes the Bethlehem Steel Office Building (Building 101), the Powerhouse (Building 102), the Union Iron Works Office Building (Building 104), the Union Iron Works Machine Shop (Building 113/114), and the Union Iron Works Foundry & Warehouse (Building 115/116) could start as early as next spring with tenants by late 2014.

Pier 70 Building 115/116

Forest City Receives Port Staff’s Final Pier 70 Rose [SocketSite]
Let The Courting Begin For Pier 70’s Historic Core [SocketSite]
Plan to bring Pier 70 back to life [SFGate]
Now Calling All Developers For San Francisco’s Pier 70 [SocketSite]

First Published: November 5, 2012 7:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I really, really hope they do something that brings out the architectural significance of the late 1800s warehouses. This is probably one of the few remaining intact industrial-era sites on the west coast. There is a lot of history that I hope would not get lost.

Personally, it would be great if they could integrate some of the machinery (for instance, the generators in building 102) as a museum display piece, instead of just sending them to the wrecking yard. I look forward to a lot of exposed brick in the historic section.

Posted by: SFer at November 5, 2012 8:23 AM

Does anyone know how these are going to be used? It seems like a great opportunity for a retail/entertainment complex that would serve the whole Mission Bay area. One of the large buildings could become a cineplex and/or performance space. Creative use of the historic buildings could add some much needed character to an area that has very little right now.

Posted by: jlasf at November 5, 2012 9:38 AM

I'd love to imagine that the site will be cared for with the same amount of integrity and creativity as the High-line in NYC...

As far as the warehouses, I think something like Chelsea Market or even Pike Place Market in Seattle (even the Ferry Building in some ways) would be a great model for success.

Posted by: Rob at November 5, 2012 10:03 AM

I definitely have mixed feelings about this. On one hand it is nice to preserve historical elements from our past, particularly unique ones.

On the other hand, the northeast third of San Francisco already feels like a museum people happen to live in, sort of like all of Venice is today.

Historical preservation has got to drive up the cost of construction and given that housing prices are already way too high here, we are just pushing them even higher here.

On the third hand, developers are just going to charge whatever the market will bear, no matter what their costs are, so maybe it doesn't matter that much. They do prefer to build high-margin luxury housing, because that is where there is enough profit to afford all the extras we require of new housing. Good planning could help streamline the process for non-luxury market-rate development.

There has to be a way to encourage capital for new development without flooding The City with more $1M condos. In San Francisco's politicized planning process, it is hard to see how that can happen tough.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at November 5, 2012 10:07 AM

Rob: note that the High Line was a citizen-driven effort. The city wanted to tear it down.

Posted by: EH at November 5, 2012 11:28 AM

Anyone yearning for the grandeur of the West Coast's industrial past should take a drive up to Mare Island shipyards in Vallejo. It will be a tribute to faded rusting glory for _decades_ to come. I am surprised we do not see more Detroit-esque post-industry photography of Mare Island. It's hearbreaking (IMHO) to see what great work happened there and how poorly the area handled the transition out. Our Golden State rustbelt.

As well, Mare Island is a cautionary tale for what Lennar might do or not do with Hunter's Point, or as in Vallejo, do halfway and then stop.........

Posted by: soccermom at November 5, 2012 11:51 AM

The plans sound promising since they're dividing it into multiple projects, so there will be a variety of new uses within the site. From the SF Gate article:

"The port developed a master plan for the pier, dividing it into four parts.

First, there's the ship repair section, which the city wants to continue and improve. Then there's the central core, which is moving quickly toward development. The port also is in negotiations with the developer Forest City for a 25-acre site on the pier that could turn into offices, biotech facilities, studios and other areas for the arts, along with open space, although a final agreement is probably two years down the road.

The final section of the project is Crane Cove, which will become an 8-acre waterfront park centered on a pair of old-fashioned shipyard cranes..."

Posted by: James at November 5, 2012 12:18 PM

two words: night club.

Posted by: raver at November 5, 2012 2:37 PM

What a great re-use of these amazing old concrete and steel warehouses. One more sign of continued growth and change in this part of SF.

Posted by: futurist at November 5, 2012 4:39 PM

NoeValleyJim - Yes, protecting more of this sector of the city seems like overkill at first. But then when you consider that probably 90%+ of SF's industrial heritage has already been razed this nugget is even more worth saving. How much of the city's old office and residential space has been lost? 50%? Probably less. Lets not allow our overprotection of Victorian houses to hobble what can be done to industrial. This stuff is important and irreplaceable.

soccermom points out larger pieces of the naval-industrial fabric left on Mare Island but that is so far out of the way and embedded in a less desirable part of the bay that development faces greater challenges. Better to mothball Mare Island like the fleet that it spawned.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at November 11, 2012 7:54 AM

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