Dogpatch Hub faces an uncertain future after the San Francisco Port Commission rejected a proposal to site the hoped-for community center adjacent to Crane Cove Park at an October meeting.
In response to Commission request-for-proposals (RFP) to repurpose the historic Kneass building at 651 Illinois Street, Friends of Dogpatch Hub, a nonprofit whose seven-member committee has been steering Hub negotiations, pitched the Port on a blend of dining spaces, meeting rooms, youth programs, archival storage, and library services. The organization has raised more than $9.6 million for the project, with gifts from the University of California, San Francisco, $4.2 million, Potrero Power Station, $2.5 million, and Pier 70 Development Fund, $2.1 million.
“I’m very disappointed we didn’t succeed…,” said John Ramsbacher, a Friends of Dogpatch committee member. “It’s devastating to lose by just one point, and very arbitrary as well.”
Ramsbacher was relieved, however, that the for-profit proposal by Premier Structures also failed.
“We have enough office space,” he said of the Premier Structures’ plan, “and we don’t need more.”
Premier Structures proposed three floors of office space, dining, and a community gathering area. It scored just one point higher than Dogpatch Hub out of the Port’s 650-point scale, with Dogpatch Hub receiving 434 points, Premier Structures 435. The Port declined both concepts.
“For the Kneass building, I have authorized staff to terminate the RFP process because neither proposal adequately met the stated objectives of the solicitation,” said Elaine Forbes, of Port of San Francisco executive director.
“The weakness of our proposal was the financial return to the Port, whereas the weakness of the other proposal was the lack of community element,” Eppler said.
According to Port Development Project Manager Jamie Hurley, Premier Structures scored higher due to its financials; Dogpatch Hub was strong in public programming.
Public comment supporting Dogpatch Hub pointed to the need for a community gathering space in light of “explosive growth” in the area and underscored that the Hub was “truly community based,” with a budget $10 million less than the one proposed by Premier Structures.
Dogpatch residents urged the Port’s Southern Advisory Committee, which addresses issues in the Mission Rock, China and India basin area, to recommend that the Port re-issue the RFP with “clear values that reflect the community’s comment in favor of community benefit versus revenue.”
“It has been a long time,” said Friends of Dogpatch Hub committee member Katherine Doumani of the effort to secure a location, “and COVID has added layers of complexity. The board has been working hard on this, taking longer than we would have liked. Nothing has gone as anticipated, but we’ll succeed in the end.”
“The neat thing about the Hub is that it can fit into a variety of sites and locations,” Eppler said.
Ramsbacher agreed, “I’m confident that we will find a home in the Dogpatch.”
The committee is investigating other potential sites, including to lease, buy, or engage in a joint venture, according to Ramsbacher. He maintained that the first choice would be the historic Potrero Police Station at 2303 Third Street, as it’s “perfectly situated” and “Dogpatch identifies with it.”
While the San Francisco Police Department had agreed to renovate the building for their own purposes with bond funds, those monies fell through. The structure’s future remains unsettled.
“Scott School could be another possibility,” said Doumani, “though the building currently has tenants.”
Friends of Dogpatch Hub participates in Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and Potrero Boosters meetings.
“We have a robust attendance on Zoom,” Eppler said.
While Friends of Dogpatch Hub hopes a new RFP will be issued, “the timeline is fuzzy,” according to Eppler.