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Weather Report
Forest City unveils Pier 70 plan
Posted On: Jan 17, 2013

Forest City is proposing a mixed-use innovation center at Pier 70 that could include as many as 1,000 housing units, 2.2 million square feet of office space, and a diverse collection of spaces to accommodate 275,000 square feet of artisans, retailers, designers, and boutique manufacturers.

While much of the proposal carries out ideas cultivated at Forest City’s 5M project at Fifth and Mission, the inclusion of housing is surprising because the Port of San Francisco had previously said that residential development at the site would conflict with the noisy ship repair businesses that flourish on the pier. But Forest City has circumvented the conflict by placing the housing as far from the ship operations as possible and has been working closely with BAE Systems, which operates the facility, the largest floating dry dock on the U.S. West Coast.

The project was first unveiled to the public Wednesday night at a Central Waterfront Advisory Group.

In an interview, Forest City Senior Vice President Alexa Arena said that creating a lively round-the-clock environment was a key part of attracting the sort of innovative companies flocking to neighborhoods like Mid-Market, SoMa, and Showplace Square.

“We think to deliver an office campus of the future, it includes residential,” said Arena. “The two are intimately connected. If you don’t have a 24-hour living place, you are not responding to the talent and the kind of talent companies need to house.”

The Forest City concept envisions a new waterfront neighborhood with eight acres of green space that both stretches along the waterfront and juts into the heart of the campus. The parkland would create both access to the Bay as well a town common of sorts — a lively interior urban park that could be compared to Washington Square in San Francisco's North Beach.

Phase one, which would start construction in 2016, would include the reuse of two historic shipyard buildings. The 100,000-square-foot Building 2 would become about 100 units of housing. The 160,000-square-foot Building 12 would be reimagined as a loft-style creative office building with a ground floor marketplace that spills out into the public plaza. The scale of the central area would draw inspiration from the network of alleys and narrow pathways that characterized Pier 70 during World War II, when it was the busy home to 18,500 workers. “The historic buildings give Pier 70 an incredibly unique ability to play off of different juxtapositions, volumes, and scales,” said Arena.

In describing the ground floor of the Pier 70, Arena and Forest City executive Jack Sylvan referred repeatedly to the American Industrial Center nearby at 2345 3rd St. in the Dogpatch, which is home to architects, choreographers, winemakers, woodworkers, metalsmiths, film editors, brewers, caterers and others. Residents of the Dogpatch are very much interested in seeing that sort of mix replicated at Pier 70, they said.

“It’s the mix of residential and types of uses you would find in the American Industrial Center but instead of being on the third and fourth floor of a big brick building they would actually be on the civic realm to help activate it,” said Arena.

The project will not be cheap. Forest City estimates that the infrastructure alone will cost $152 million and the historic restoration part of the project will come in at $90 million.

While those sort of mom-and-pop tenants will not bring the sort of Class rents needed to make Pier 70 a reality, they will help draw the residents and anchor office tenants that will. The denser office and residential portions of the project would be concentrated to the north and south of the property and would rise as high as 235 feet.

“What those companies are looking for in terms of an urban experience overlaps pretty extensively with what the Dogpatch community wants to see out there. It’s not a situation where the companies want to be in a suburban office environment that is suburban and separate from surrounding uses,” said Sylvan.

Evan Rose of Sightlab (formerly of SMWM) and AECOM are designing the project for Forest City.


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