Massive Pier 70 redevelopment clears Planning Commission

Source: San Francisco Examiner

Plans for Pier 70 include rehabilitation of historic buildings, an artist space and at least 1,100 residential units, 30 percent of which would be on-site affordable housing. (Courtesy Forest City)

By Michael Barba | August 25, 2017

The proposed redevelopment of the historic shipyard at Pier 70 moved forward on Thursday at the Planning Commission, bringing the massive mixed-use project closer to reality after a decade of planning. 

Developer Forest City plans to build between 1,100 and 2,150 residential units on a 28-acre portion Pier 70, including 30 percent on-site affordable housing. The development would also bring between 1.2 million and 2.3 million square feet of commercial space to the Dogpatch.

In addition, the plans call for the rehabilitation of historic buildings, space for the artists who currently occupy areas of the shipyard and $765 million in total public benefits.

“Ten years of neighborhood planning, community engagement and tremendous public benefits have shaped the Pier 70 project and generated incredible support to get us to this point,” Forest City Senior Vice President Jack Sylvan said through a spokesperson. “We’ll continue to inform, learn and listen to ensure the project is germane to the neighborhood and The City.”

But uncertainty over the balance of commercial space and housing that will ultimately be built on the site prompted the Planning Commission to add conditions to its support for the project.

Spurred by the housing crisis, the Planning Commission recommended to the Board of Supervisors and Port Commission Pier 70 include the maximum amount of housing feasible. The project still needs additional approval.

The commission also supported a threshold for the amount of commercial space built. If the project went over that cap, it would need to return to the Planning Commission for conditional-use authorization.

“We are in a housing supply and affordability crisis, whenever we have an opportunity with a large site we should think housing first,” Commissioner Christine Johnson said.

Planning Commission President Rich Hillis pointed out the site is also appropriate for commercial space. The Central Subway is expanding light-rail service to the southeastern parts of San Francisco.

“We can’t just say we need housing, we need to build housing everywhere,” Hillis said. “This is a site that for many reasons offices can be appropriate.”

The Forest City project is expected to be built out in phases over more than a decade. Certain parts of the 69-acre Pier 70 on land used as a shipyard since the 1800s are not environmentally suitable for housing. Forest City’s development is slated for just 28 acres of the site.

“The first phase of the project has a major residential component, as well as historic restoration, waterfront parks and small local manufacturing,” Sylvan said. “For later phases, we’ll have to determine what’s best based on what happens on adjacent industrial properties.”

The Port Commission will hear the project Sept. 12, before it reaches the Board of Supervisors in October.