Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Great Ports Make Great Cities

As I’ve alluded to more than once, the City of San Francisco is not losing time in checking off the boxes when it comes to the infrastructure work that’s required to put on an America’s Cup event in 2013. It’s well recorded by former AC cities (Perth, Auckland, Valencia) that the Cup leaves behind a legacy that continues to be enjoyed - and continues to provide financial benefit - for everyone. The City is proving to be the rock amongst the ever changing tides of Cup chaos (who really knows how many teams will show come Judgment Day?) but then it’s really never been any different. And, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there’s still two years to go…

At the Port of San Francisco, Jonathan Stern, Asst. Deputy Director, Waterfront Development
, filled SailBlast in on what's happening in his domain. Most of that which he and his team are focusing on right now is related to the entitlement process (the People Plan is the public part of that) and working on drafting the EIR to get the environmental clearance. Stern says there’s a lot of technical analysis that has to be done about the event and understanding better what the event is. He’s also working with the America’s Cup Environmental Coalition - a local stakeholder group which has been following the Cup and generally has a stake in the waterfront, being concerned with waterfront development and other related issues.

Stern says that the Port continues to communicate with tenants so that they know as much as the Port does about plans for the Cup and when things will happen etc. According to Stern, some tenants remain concerned about how they are going to fit into the City or the waterfront in the long term. “We’re doing as much as we can to communicate with those people, let them know what our plans are,” Stern said. “Anyone who is interested in proactively looking for a new space, we’re working with them. It’s going pretty well, I can’t say everyone is perfectly happy to move their businesses because they’ve been there for a long time but I think everyone recognizes it’s kind of an evolution along the waterfront.”

The Port is working with America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) to understand what their plans are vis a vis using the facilities. “We have an obligation to work with them to understand how they’re going to use the airspace, the waterways - we’re working with the FAA and the Coast Guard - most of these administrative things that are happening are things that have to happen to get an event like this organized. It’s not new territory - it’s amazing how much precedence there is for this actually - like maritime events of national significance like Fleet Week - there’s a structure already in place with the “rules” covered and most of the challenges we’re finding fall under those rules. I’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve been able to work through these issues.”

The new cruise ship terminal plans are well underway, with the Port currently finishing up the schematic design; the next phase is design development. For the Port, the cruise ship terminal project is probably the most complicated part related to the America’s Cup development as it’s the only building they’re responsible for constructing for the Cup. The other two big public works projects that are associated with the Cup that require facilities for the event are the Brannan Street Wharf which is a project the Port’s already working on, and Piers 30-32 on which ACEA is require do some structural repair.

Much has to happen on the cruise ship site other than the entitlement process. The new terminal is being built in the footprint of one of the cruise terminals right now - the Pier 27 shed, which is about 220, 000 square feet. “It’s very big - the first thing that has to happen is that shed has to be demolished which is particularly challenging because it’s physically connected to Pier 29 shed which is a historic shed. So, to do the demolition you have to have plans in place for the improvements you’re going to make to Pier 29, that’s complicated. It’s an old building so there are normal concerns about the paint and asbestos etc.,” Stern described.

The demolition of Pier 27 shed is an obligation of ACEA, who then hand over that cleared site to a city team led by the Port and the Dept. Public Works to start construction of the Cruise Terminal. Stern said that should all happen in early 2012. “We then have an obligation to hand it back to ACEA in early 2013. It will be a constructed building, what we call “core and shell” - it won’t yet be a cruise terminal, it won’t have the maritime structure like bumpers, gangways etc. which is good because the initial thing that’s going to happen there is preparation for the America’s Cup.”

But first things first - look forward to a public draft EIR on the street this summer.

* Check out the Port's website - lots of good Cup info that's regularly updated.

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