Property owners near water hope for slice of America’s Cup money 


The cheerleaders of the America’s Cup have promised the yacht race will bring in more than $1 billion of economic activity to the region. But Bob Schwenke would be satisfied with just $25,000 of that windfall.

“It hasn’t created any economic activity for me yet, but it’s still a little bit early,” he said.

Two years before the international yacht race is scheduled to set sail on San Francisco Bay, Schwenke has placed his boat and the rights to his slip at Pier 39 — the front row for the 2013 race — on Craigslist under the heading “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.” He’s priced the two-bedroom, two-bath yacht and rights to the 60-foot slip at $259,950 — about $25,000 more than he thinks he’d get for it if the America’s Cup weren’t coming to town.

“There’s going to be some big money coming in — big money,” he said. “The America’s Cup is not a pauper’s race.”

Schwenke was one of four slip or boat owners trying to market their on-the-water property to America’s Cup aficionados on Craigslist last week. City officials say they’re hardly surprised the event is already attracting people and businesses trying to make a buck off of the upcoming event, which they say could attract as many as 5 million people to the Bay in the late summer of 2013 and bring in more than $1 billion to the local economy.

it’s not just individuals on Craigslist that are jumping on the America’s Cup bandwagon: Large property owners are beginning to as well. Fairmont Heritage Place, a private residence complex at Ghirardelli Square, is promising new investors a guaranteed vista during the yacht race if they buy in now.

The private residence, which opened in 2008 but has only been able to sell about half its units, offers a time-sharelike deal, in which investors can buy one-tenth ownership of a unit and are guaranteed about 35 days of the year there.

“We think it’s going to be a really attractive option for folks who are going to be attracted to the America’s Cup, the lifestyle it offers and the lifestyle we offer at the Fairmont Place,” said Todd Chapman, president of JMA Ventures, the real estate investment firm behind Fairmont Heritage Place. “I think the closer we get to the event, the more refined the attention we’ll get. We expect to be very busy and very full at that period of time.”

This kind of interest in property happens at almost any fixed-location event, like the Olympics or the Super Bowl, Chapman said. He wouldn’t be surprised to see an Olympics-like phenomenon where people rent out their apartments near the event to make some extra cash.

Entrepreneur Tim Ellis is also hoping to ride the America’s Cup wave. A friend of his owns a large yacht at Pier 39 and has asked Ellis, who has expertise in tourism, to help him lease it out for the event. Ellis has already reached out to destination management companies — a type of travel agent for the extremely rich.

But Ellis says it’s not just about making a buck off of the race.

“You stand on the back of this boat and you look straight out at Alcatraz, left to the Golden Gate Bridge, and right to the Bay Bridge,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll provide a service for people who are looking for something really special when they come to see the event.”

Raising sails for a windfall

$1.2 billion: Economic benefit to the region that America’s Cup promoters say the race will bring
5 million: Spectators estimated by America’s Cup promoters
$32 million: Amount the America’s Cup Organizing Committee has agreed to raise to offset city costs
$2 million: Amount so far raised by the America’s Cup Organizing Committee
$12 million: Amount The City has budgeted for the event so far

Sources: Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, America’s Cup Organizing Committee

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