Pier 70 plan financing ‘complicated’ 

Transforming 28 acres of rusted maritime space at Pier 70 into a new neighborhood with tech companies and more than 1,000 condo units will require "complicated" financing and more than $160 million to build new roads, three parking garages and a possible new Muni turnaround.

Pier 70 in the Dogpatch neighborhood is Port of San Francisco property, part of which is planned to be converted into housing and retail. Nearly all of the estimated $1.85 billion required to redevelop Pier 70 is coming from private capital raised by site developer Forest City, which built the Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall on Market Street.

Forest City will build up to 1,070 condo units and 2.25 million square feet of office space at the waterfront site, which now hosts The City's tow yard and other industrial and maritime uses. The developer is guaranteed an 18 percent return on its early investment, according to a development deal term sheet that is scheduled to be voted on by the Board of Supervisors today.

But there will be public costs associated with the redevelopment. The Port of San Francisco will need to come up with about $222 million via bond sales, according to Port documents. The bonds will pay for infrastructure improvements, including utility lines, transit improvements and other improvements like parks.

Exactly how the publicly funded side of Pier 70 will be financed — and how the Port plans to raise an additional $98 million that would build three parking garages on the site — has yet to be determined.

"There are challenges with this site," Brad Benson, the Port's project manager at Pier 70, told the Board of Supervisors on June 5. "It has very high infrastructure costs."

The site is not well-served by public transportation, and it might require an "extension" of the T-Third Street line with a turnaround near 20th Street, Benson said.

Rezoning and planning alone will cost about $20 million, Port officials said.

Once completed, Pier 70 is projected to bring in about $28.6 million in annual tax revenue to The City, and the businesses on site will provide 18,020 jobs, according to a city analysis.

It will be years before a shovel enters the ground. Changes to zoning laws and the financing will take at least three years, said Benson, who added that the homes and offices will be built in phases over a 15-year period.

In addition to financing, the developer will also have to conquer the elements.

The waterfront at Pier 70 is projected to be underwater by the year 2100, according to Port staff. Forest City plans to add soil to raise the site's elevation, and must also build a seawall to ensure that the part of Pier 70 built on landfill does not sink.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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