Pier 29 Will Likely Become Home To New Local Maker Showcase

Pier 29 Will Likely Become Home To New Local Maker Showcase
By Geri Koeppel - Published on April 26, 2016.

The mystery of what will move into Pier 29 is just about over: It'll most likely become a local maker showcase, run by Jamestown L.P. in cooperation with the nonprofit SF Made. Local craft beer, wine and/or coffee, with a production component, will be also in the mix.

After a request for proposals process in which three contenders vied for the space, the Port of San Francisco is asking the Port Commission to award the opportunity to Jamestown, and direct staff to enter into exclusive negotiations for a lease of the bulkhead, or 20,000-square-foot front area, of Pier 29. 

Images are subject to Port regulatory, architectural and historic review. (Renderings: Jamestown L.P./BCV Architects)

Jamestown owns the retail part of Ghirardelli Square, and has had lured many local businesses there in recent years, and has also had successes with Chelsea Market in New York City and Ponce City Market in Atlanta. Its offices are located right across the Embarcadero, at 1700 Montgomery St., so although this project is a much smaller scope than the other three, the company knows the area well.

The bulkhead of Pier 29 is marked by the number 1. (Graphic: Port of San Francisco)

The commission will consider the action at its meeting at 3:15pm today on the second floor of the Ferry Building. If the Port Commission and, eventually, the Board of Supervisors approve the exclusive negotiating agreement, Jamestown could have a lease in hand by late 2016 and be open for business by late 2017.

"They have a lot of experience on Port property, and that’s one of the strengths the panel saw," said Boris Delepine, contracts administrator for the Port. "They know and understand the waterfront, and the people who come through the waterfront.”

Jamestown aims to serve tourists and locals

The Port's staff report on Jamestown's selection reads in part:

The proposed retail space will feature flexible rail-car like displays made of industrial brand and recycled materials that will allow for different configurations, to accommodate fluctuating merchandise presentation or open the space for large events.

Jamestown also proposes a local craft beverage operation that will feature an urban brewery and/or winery and/or coffee roastery. The back wall of the bulkhead will be anchored by a craft alcohol manufacturer, and the zone closest to the Embarcadero is envisioned as an indoor/outdoor café showcasing a local San Francisco coffee roastery. The beverage-focused uses will have limited food service.

More than 30 people participated in site tours of Pier 29 during the request for proposals (RFP) process, which was announced in November 2015 and began December 23rd, 2015, with a proposal due date of January 21st, 2016. Three of the written proposals that were submitted were deemed to meet qualifications; Jamestown's proposal beat out teams headed by Iartsf and Premier Structures, Inc.

Delepine said the team with Iartsf, the second-place finisher, had experience with a shipping container project in San Diego called the Quartyard, which is similar to The Yard at Mission Rock. It proposed putting shipping containers in the building for local retail and beverages, along with event space. Premier, he said, proposed a market hall concept with restaurant and retail services focused around passengers coming from the cruise terminal, so it wouldn't be open all of the time.

Jamestown's concept will serve not only cruise passengers, but other tourists traversing the Embarcadero and locals. Mark Lozovoy, the Port's assistant deputy director for real estate, said there are gaps along the waterfront from Fisherman's Wharf to the Exploratorium, and "we want to fill it in with points of interest." The retail component will offer a rotating showcase of unique, locally made products, with vendors culled from the roughly 600 artists and makers of SF Made. "It’s an incubator space where new products can be tested,” he added.

Cruise terminal. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)

Port sought unique offerings, not just more food

Pier 29, rebuilt after a 2012 fire, has been empty since the end of the 2013 America's Cup races. It briefly hosted a pop-up restaurant called Waiheke Island Yacht Club in the bulkhead, which Lozovoy said "got people thinking" about activating the space permanently. He said Jamestown's proposal "was right up the alley of what we can do to historically preserve these piers, while inviting people in and allowing them to see the architectural beauty of them.”

The Port always knew it didn't want a restaurant or food hall. "We clearly didn’t want to compete with the Ferry Building or Fisherman's Wharf as far as uses go," Lozovoy said. As far back as July 2014, the Port proposed an RFP process "for a lease to build-out and operate a 'San Francisco Bay Area flavored’ retail facility with a single or multiple smaller retail businesses at the Pier 29 Bulkhead Building,” according to this staff report. At a Waterfront Vision Workshop in October 2015, one of the teams suggested a formal relationship with SF Made.

A Waterfront Vision Workshop at Pier 1 in October. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)

Lozovoy said a great deal of public input and brainstorming went into the process, and in a new twist, a community member was part of the panel that chose the proposal. Stewart Morton, also a member of the Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group (NEWAG) and a historic preservationist, "brought the community perspective to the panel," Lozovoy said. "We asked, 'What will this mean for your neighborhood?'"

More details to come; rest of pier still in flux

Jamestown is proposing a 15-year lease with rent of $25,000 per month, among other terms. All terms and conditions will need approval from the Port Commission and the Board of Supervisors. The Port also is budgeting $2.7 million for Pier 29 improvements, including improved seismic performance of the facility as deemed necessary.

The Port is still working on what to do with the rest of Pier 29, Lozovoy said, including the shed and the open area behind it near the public open space at the tip of the pier. "The problem with the rest of the shed is it has a high price tag on substructure repair and complete seismic upgrade of the entire pier," to the tune of $20 million, he said. The Port is in the process of updating the waterfront plan with a series of meetings of working groups composed of community members and Port staff, and that's one of the many components being targeted.