America's Cup deal ramps up idle project on San Francisco waterfront 

Advocates of an America’s Cup race in San Francisco promised that it would spur long-desired development on the southern waterfront. But critics worried the deal would force the Port of San Francisco to spend money it does not have.

It turns out the deal might be creating both scenarios already.

When the agreement was signed Dec. 31, the Port obligated itself to finally demolish the disintegrating pier pilings just south of the Bay Bridge and replace them with a public park over the water. The Brannan Street Wharf project has been promised to the neighborhood for years, and the Port’s slow movement on it has frustrated residents who crave more green space in the historically industrial neighborhood.

But the project has never been fully funded, and while the Port has managed to pull together about $28 million to complete some work, it is short $4 million for the rest, according to a recent staff report presented to the Port Commission.

But there is no need to worry, said Brad Benson, a special projects manager for the Port. He said with the recession, many bids — especially for high-profile projects — have been coming in at 20 or 30 percent below estimates.

“Our first hope would be when we bid the project, there’s a strong bidding pool,” Benson said.

If that does not happen, the Port will go to city officials and seek help finding the extra money, he said. Benson expressed confidence that “the city family” will come together and help the Port find money for costs related to the event.

But his confidence was met with skepticism by Corinne Woods, a longtime Port watcher, Mission Bay resident and chair of the Mission Bay Citizens Advisory Committee. She said residents will be thrilled to have the new piers, but when told Benson believes The City will come to the Port’s rescue with money, she was sarcastic.

“Oh, right,” Woods said. “And where’s The City gonna get the money?”

San Francisco currently faces a budget deficit of nearly $400 million.

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Katie Worth

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