January 2013

Development Plans for Seawall Lot 337 Continues to Evolve

By George Nelson

Plans to revamp Seawall Lot 337 – also known as “Parking Lot A” – into what the developer is calling a ‘dynamic mixed-use community’ have been gathering momentum in recent months. The Port of San Francisco is overseeing the project, which is a joint venture between the San Francisco Giants and The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based real estate firm, to develop the 27-acre site – including Pier 48 – now coined “Mission Rock.”

The development as currently envisioned would consist of waterfront housing for up to 2,000 new residents, eight acres of open space and 125,000 square feet of retail space. Construction would start in 2015 and unfold over the next six years.

More than 70 San Franciscans attended a community design workshop late last year to hear Port, City and Mission Rock development representatives discuss proposed project options and ideas. “Potrero Hill has been direct beneficiaries of this. People may not always like what the Port does, but I don’t think they can argue with the process that the Port does to solicit as much community feedback as possible,” said Jon Knorpp of Mission Rock Development.

Throughout the meeting concerns were raised over the development’s height, with some attendees worried that the proposed towers would block their view of the East Bay. The towers’ exact location hasn’t yet been decided, but Phil Williamson, Port development manager, said they’d be situated “to best activate the eight acres of planned open space.” As for the size of the two potential structures, “We haven’t come to conclusion on the heights since we are still evolving the design, but we are exploring the inclusion of one or two buildings over 300 feet in addition to those at lower heights, particularly along the waterfront,” Williamson said.

The developers also reiterated that while the area will have its own unique identity, it will be influenced by the characteristics of other San Francisco neighborhoods. “Street development in an area such as Hayes Valley is much more intimate than what you would normally see on a new development. The staccato rhythm of the close, 13-foot wide street fronts is what we have compared ourselves to. This is what people find most appealing,” said Knorpp.

Parking has been a contentious issue with past Mission Bay developments, and many meeting attendees expressed concerns that Mission Rock will add to existing congestion problems. “I hope they get the parking right this time,” said 54-year-old Mission Bay resident Peter Leibowitz. “This type of huge development always seems to screw up the parking, and it is the people who live here that have to deal with it. High meter rates, overcrowding and a lack of response from City officials are what’s wrong.” According to a Mission Rock handout, the site will contain a “responsible amount of shared parking to support ballpark and neighborhood uses.”

“We need to address the transit infrastructure. Everybody understands that if you’re going to push the transit first policy then you have to have the transit to back it up,” said Fran Weld, Mission Rock development director.

The current proposal provides the developer the ability to program the retail uses throughout the project site spanning the many shops, restaurants, cafes and galleries set to fill the 125,000 square feet of available space. Williamson said, “This should allow for the thoughtful planning of retail that meets the needs of the neighborhood and contributes a to a vibrant community.” The baseball team is striving to create a “model community, incorporating green technologies and sustainable practices to reduce energy consumption, vehicle emissions and the community’s overall carbon footprint,” according to a report by Perkins & Will, which – headed by Peter Busby, an architect known for sustainable construction practices – is responsible for master planning the project.

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