“San Francisco’s New Development Frontier”


June 27, 2015
San Francisco Business Times

The southeastern waterfront from Mission Bay to Hunters Point is poised to see 17,000 new housing units and millions of square feet of commercial space built in the coming decades. What will $13 billion in new investment mean for these neighborhoods?

The five-mile stretch of San Francisco’s southeastern waterfront between the Giants’ current and former homes – AT&T Park and Candlestick Point – is a window into both the city’s industrial past and development future.

Go south from Mission Bay and hang slightly east of the Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and Bayview neighborhoods, and you’ll stumble upon rundown ship-repair sheds, crumbling port docks, towering power-plant steam stacks and even hidden wildlife treasures.

With a little imagination, maybe you can picture what seven recent waterfront proposals add up to: a new basketball arena, more than 17,000 housing units, 6 million square feet of office and manufacturing space, 2 million square feet of retail and 50 acres of public parks. The $13 billion worth of projects — a conservative estimate — will get delivered over the next 10 to 15 years if all goes according to plan.

“We’re building whole new neighborhoods in San Francisco,” said Lou Vasquez, managing director of the developer Build Inc., which unveiled a dramatic proposal for a $200 million project with 980 housing units on 14 acres at India Basin earlier this year.

Along the way, developers and the city will likely reap the benefits of the area’s brighter weather, large tracts and upgraded streets — and bikeways. But exploring new terrain is fraught with risks. National real estate developers like Lennar Corp. and Forest City, as well as local guys like Strada Investment Group, Orton Development Inc., District Development and the Giants, are also taking stabs at building on those barren properties.

Showing they have the appetite to take on mega-projects, most have pitched high-cost proposals with high ratios of affordable housing, plenty of open space, and even space for artist studios, grocery stores and schools.

“There’s an ambitiousness to all of these large projects that I think is pretty exciting and quite different than what you see in the rest of the country,” said Gabriel Metcalf, president of the public policy think tank SPUR. “People have wanted to bring some of these sites to new life for a long time, but what’s making it possible now is the strength of the Bay Area economy.”

Ambitious, yes, but Vasquez put it more bluntly: “If you’re not a lunatic, you’re not a developer.”


Development on the eastern waterfront, from north to south
 

1. Mission Rock
The developer: The San Francisco Giants, which will eventually partner with other developers
The project: A 28-acre redevelopment of a parking lot that will include 1,500 units of housing, eight acres of parkland, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and a new brewery for Anchor Brewing Co.
The cost: $1.6 billion
The latest: Voters will need to approve the project this November, which is being built on public Port of San Francisco land, before it can start the entitlement process.


2. Future Warriors arena
The developer: The Golden State Warriors and Strada Investment Group
The project: An 11-acre redevelopment that will include an 18,000-seat arena, 580,000 square feet of office space, 25,000 square feet of retail and 3.2 acres of parks.
The cost: $1 billion
The latest: The city has released a draft environmental impact report detailing traffic effects of the potential arena, which has drawn legal threats from a group called the Mission Bay Alliance. The team still hopes to open the arena by the 2018-2019 season.


3. Pier 70
The developer: Orton Development Inc.
The project: Restore eight historic office and industrial buildings that total 266,963 square feet on five acres.
The cost: $100 million
The latest: The 18-month construction process is underway to restore the buildings for light industrial, technology, life science and art use as well as for showrooms and restaurants. The Board of Supervisors approved the ground lease last year.


4. Pier 70
The developer: Forest City Enterprises
The project: A 28-acre former industrial site that is expected to include between 1,100 and 2,150 residential units apartments, 1 million and 2 million square feet of commercial, 450,000 square feet of retail and manufacturing space, and nine acres of new parks over 15 to 20 years of construction.
The cost: Hundreds of millions of dollars
The latest: Voters approved the project’s height increases with Prop. F last November, so the developer is now preparing an environmental impact report.


5. Potrero power plant
The developer: District Development
The project: The 21-acre former Potrero power plant site could turn into 3 million square feet of development with an undetermined amount of housing, open space, R&D/commercial and retail.
The cost: $2 billion
The latest: The developer has started talks with neighborhood groups and could submit preliminary plans to the city in a couple of months.


6. India Basin
The developer: Build Inc.
The project: The 14-acre site that’s mostly vacant open space would include 980 housing units, 46,400 square feet of commercial/retail space and 6 acres of public parks.
The cost: $200 million
The latest: The developer recently filed its environmental application with the city to start the approval process.


7. Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point
The developer: Lennar Urban
The project: The 700-acre development project will transform a former military base in two phases. The first phase is under way, 1,600 homes and 26 acres of open space coming to the Shipyard. The second phase will include an additional 10,500 new housing units at the Shipyard and Candlestick Point, 3 million square feet of R&D and office space and 500,000 square feet of retail in the form of an “urban mall.”
The cost: $8 billion
The latest: The Shipyard’s first slate of 88 homes sold out, with 159 more units recently starting sales. The developer is also in early talks with Google to take office space there. It has already committed to partnering with San Francisco State for a new campus at the Shipyard, as well as inking a deal with shopping center developer Macerich to build a half-million-square-foot outdoor mall.

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