San Francisco Pier 29

With San Francisco no longer in the running to host the 35th America’s Cup, the Port is preparing to issue a request for proposals to redevelop San Francisco’s Pier 29. The Port’s vision for the pier: “A San Francisco Bay Area themed marketplace that brings together a collection of successful San Francisco retailers/restaurateurs.”

One possibility is to be a one-of-a-kind location that could have a tenant mix matching the success of big and little companies from San Francisco and the Bay Area. For example, there could be a selection of bread-makers, ranging from Boudin’s Bakery to Acme Breads to Pinky’s Bakery, etc. together with a selection of children’s clothing and accessories such as Wee Scotty, Dottie Doolittle, The Ark Toy Store, A Child’s Delight, Glammic, Ambassador Toys, Small Frys, Chloe’s Closet, etc. There could be flower shops, such as Flora Grubb, Hoogasian Flowers, Bay Natives Nursery, etc., jewelry makers, book sellers, ceramics, hardwares, wine and/or artisan beer tasting areas, cooking novelties such as William Sonoma, Napa Style, etc. and food and beverage purveyors.

Built in 1915 to serve as a maritime warehouse, the Bulkhead Building of Pier 29 which fronts the Embarcadero was rebuilt in 2012 following a blaze and the 123,000 square foot pier was used by the America’s Cup Event Authority for the 34th America’s Cup. The Waiheke Island Yacht Club “popup” Restaurant vacated the Bulkhead Building this past January.

As envisioned, the Port will issue a Request for Proposals to redevelop the Bulkhead Building this Fall, select the winner this Winter, and approve a lease next Spring. We imagine most of the companies interested in winning this business would look for rfp help from specific firms to increase their chance of being successful. The Bulkhead Building is envisioned as the site for the retail anchor(s) for the redevelopment. And if successful, RFP’s for the rest of the Pier would follow with the following plan:

The second area [for redevelopment] consists of approximately 35,000 square feet and is situated on the south side of the Pier 29 shed. This space is envisioned to be divided into café and retail “shop” spaces that can open onto a central pedestrian aisle in the shed as well as creating an attractive retail frontage that faces the cruise terminal, providing an amenity to cruise passengers and other visitors to the pier.

These are expected to be relatively small spaces with multiple opportunities for local small businesses representing San Francisco and broad Bay Area businesses and culture. The eastern portion of this area is envisioned to be dedicated to supporting the cruise industry. Uses in this portion of the shed could include: a visitor’s center, concierge service, baggage storage, transportation services for tours of San Francisco and other Bay Area locations, and onsite Bay Area experiences for tourists and cruise passengers with no time to actually visit locations such as Napa, Santa Cruz and art museums in the City.

A third area (3) also consisting of approximately 35,000 square feet is situated on the north side of the shed. This area is envisioned to be used primarily to support the retail activities in Bulkhead Building and the south area of the shed. The Port is interested in attracting San Francisco businesses to establish a retail presence in Pier 29 and utilize “back of house” space to fabricate, assemble or store their own products at Pier 29. Ideally this industrial space can attract “maker” users as an area to make their goods locally with a connection with retail showroom space elsewhere at Pier 29. The area likely would include demised, minimally improved, industrial spaces.

Finally, the area at the east end of the shed (4), which is approximately 23,000 square feet, has a roof and a north and west wall, but is not enclosed at the east end, open to views of the Bay from the triangular tip of Pier 27-29. This is a BCDC public access area, and a unique semi-enclosed pier shed creates an indoor-outdoor experience of the Bay, but with some shelter from the wind and elements. As part of the Cruise Terminal project, this area of the shed was going to be demolished but was ultimately retained in its current state. Port staff proposes to engage with BCDC to define acceptable activating uses for this area to create a draw people out to the pier tip, and enhance public access enjoyment of this extraordinary location.

Pier 29 Plan

48 thoughts on “Port’s Plan For Pier 29: Themed Retail/Restaurant Marketplace”
  1. So they want to turn it into a mall? And have these other businesses agreed to rent space there or is this just some bureaucrat’s wet dream?

  2. maybe a farmers market….oh wait…we have one…it’s the ferry building….too bad everything is priced like whole foods on steroids….

    Pikes Mkt in Seattle is a real working farmers market…with veggies spilling into the aisles and the smell of food and dirt and what not…and the prices are reasonable…..

    1. Plenty of reasonably priced farmers markets in SF too. So what? Do you walk around Neiman Marcus and complain about their prices being higher than Walmart’s?

  3. I’m sure this would be a hugely successful development even if they execute only passably. But given the size of the city, is another one of these necessary? If it’s built, I think there’s no way that area does not slide into further tourist domination over locals, and therefore the same “feel” that the Wharf has. Not good.

    1. There’s a cruise ship terminal next door. I think the “local feel” ship has probably sailed, if you’ll excuse the pun.

  4. After they screwed up in the George Lucas museum, Warrior Stadium and 35th America’s cup. This is what they have to come up with? Pathetic, incompetent and greedy SF Port of commission is now scrambling to sell out.

    1. Yeah. Because a collection of Star Wars trivia and gaudy trinkets and rich man’s toys was SO VERY IMPORTANT to the City. Why the hero worship of Lucas?

      Besides, the Port didn’t kibosh the Museum, the Presideo Trust did. The Port didn’t kill the Warriors deal, local politics did. So, basically, your entire post is…fail.

  5. seriously? this is another ferry building. its crap. how about a public climbing wall, trampoline, fun place like the one in the presidio

  6. As long as there isn’t any formula retail.

    How will we preserve the longshoreman’s contributions to San Francisco civic culture if resources such as these are turned into mallish schlock? I call for a new Longshoreman Great Building Transportation (LGBT) zoning category ordinance to put on the ballot.

    Then everyone who reads ballot initiatives in 5 seconds can vote to support LGBT rights and preserve the waterfront in one fell swoop!

    Pretty early on Monday to be this cynical, right?

  7. Don’t get it. Ferry Building runs risk of becoming Pier 39 as it is. Sounds like tourist dollar catcher. Would rather rethink some of the Union Sq adjacent streets into the ‘Loin, rezone for commerce and upgrades and let visitors experience the old world touches of this area. Will take time but look at what Montreal has done and London etc. We’re sitting on an amazing opp to extend the Union Sq buzz — if we dare think differently. A new mall on the water is tedious — and citing Bay Area Natives (which I love) is sort of ridiculous for tourists. Other options:

    Park and landing for bike/pedestrian bridge to TI
    opera house
    high school for technology and craft
    senior condominiums
    central location for water sports boating

    Whatever we do — Don’t let Academy of Arts secure it.

  8. It’s a Ferry Building for cruise tourists. The Port’s “vision” shows a complete lack of vision. But to be honest, the location at the cruise terminal will make anything here a tourist trap.

      1. You must not go there much – I do, often, both as a nearby office worker during the week, and as a resident on weekends. The farmers’ market and the restaurants in particular get heavy local patronage.

        1. It gets heavy local patronage because there’s no alternative. We kid ourselves into believing it’s a farmers’ market.

          1. I know I’m a local and I go to the Ferry Building on a regular basis. Why shouldn’t I? Are you gonna tell me their grapes are sour? Guess what, tourists go to the Golden Gate Bridge too, so I guess that means no locals should use it? Give it a rest.

          2. I go occasionally, but since I take BART from Oakland, I suppose that makes me a tourist as well.

    1. It would be a confusing place to navigate as all of the wings would have to be named in honor of the THNA.

  9. Maybe a Chicago Navy Pier as an example. SF has too many spots in need of development. This pier, Ft Mason, the whole of the Presidio. A cohesive vision would be helpful.

  10. I agree with enzo. A NIMBY Museum would be a perfect match for SF. The location couldn’t be any better.
    The irony when the NIMBYs fight against it!

  11. the presidio does not need development. its nice to have some place to have trails reserved for dog walks and running and nature walks, and not too many cars. the last 5 years of development has already ruined lots of trails and hundreds of trees ahve been removed. they turned the coastal trail from a runner and hiker’s paradise into a tourist walk. not every inch of green space needs to be developed. green space should be sacred.

    1. Totally agree about the Lincoln Park coastal trail. Did that for first time for a few years last month when my kid finally hit something of a hiking age, and was shocked at how much it had changed. Used to be a hidden gem

    2. But, but but. We have to tear out all of the alien untermenschen trees. They are ze interlopers. Ve need room for more three inch tall gray shrubs! Sieg heil! (You know who the first Native Plants purists were, don’t you? All hail Saint Godwin!

    3. There’s this beautiful place just across the bridge called the Marin Headlands. You might like it better.

      1. i go there too, but its nice to have this in the city. no need to turn the presidio into disneyland.

  12. I understand catering to the cruise tourist who probably don’t venture very far into the city but another shopping area is hard to get excited about and serves to remind me of the missed opportunity that remains with the cobbled together collection of spaces and uses that make up the waterfront. I don’t know if SPUR has already done this but I’d love to see a plan with some vision guiding development around the waterfront from the Presidio south, not just more random ideas that feel created in a vacuum.

  13. I’d love a bunch of cheap, small, single purpose food stalls. Something like the international food court in Emeryville or most of Asia. And it should be open to 4am most nights, if not 24/7, since this isn’t near anyone or anything who can complain. This city has terrible late night food options and their number is shrinking.

    1. I love love love the idea of a night market here— one of my favorite parts of visiting Taiwan was checking out all the late night markets there.

      1. Exactly, that would be something unique and interesting and fun. And something to do past midnight that doesn’t involve drinking.

  14. Especially liking night market concept, add local music, stick to single purpose stalls; could be a phenomenal gathering place and something that would seem to be unique here.

  15. It doesn’t feel like Pier 39 (which I cannot stand), and I love the Ferry Building. I am a local and go there all the time. I hope this ends up feeling like the Ferry Building, maybe with more variety/diversity. I agree – no formula retail.

  16. Nothing really exciting about the project. Basically, Ferry Plaza 2.0. Geez, could’t they come up with something a bit out of the retail box? So much for originality,

    Having volunteered at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market for many years I know firsthand that it’s mostly for tourists who gush over overpriced produce and locals who want to feel special about paying 6$/pound for tomatoes. The retail space is uninspiring and contrived. Want a real market? Try Seattle or Philly for starters.

  17. What about transit? LOL. The F line can hardly be considered reliable transit and is geared for tourists.

    1. There will (eventually) be the E line. Since there’s a stop close by and given the amount of people on those ships, your point is just one more reason that the E line should use the double cars like the N and not the small, single historic cars planned for the E.

      1. E line will use the same historic cars and will only be useful to tourists or locals playing tourist. If you’re a local and don’t live walking distance you most likely would drive unless you want to play tourist.

        If the city was serious about any kind of real market for both locals and tourists it would make it more centrally located. The TTC could use a boost of real retail and make it destination other than a bus terminal.

  18. im in the camp that the Ferry building is mostly tourists ON THE WEEKEND and SUMMER. i stopped going there about 4 yrs ago after i felt the farmers market was more of a tourist destination than locals, and became pretty overpriced. in the meantime, there have been a bunch of more local farmer’s markets opening up across the city that cater to locals. during the week and non-summer, a lot of local business workers go there and those who take the ferry

  19. Hmmm, seems like I heard this about Ghirardelli Sq (where I worked right out of highschool), and The Cannery, both were well intended and meant to draw SF’ers and not tourists, guess we know how that worked out. Pier 39 & Fisherman’s Wharf in their schockliness are at least honest about who they want to draw. The Ferry Building is well done, well intentioned and kind of walks the line with an “artisnal” approach to a food emporium, (really miss the old Crystal Palace Market @ 8th & Market)…something like that would be great, but lack of parking, Aaron and his gang from Telegraph Hill and the Port’s utter lack of imagination will guarantee this will sit for another 10 years….Hate to bring up Chicago…but do all the bulkheads and piers north of the Ferry Building really need to stay up? A nice promenade like Chicago’s Lakefront Trail would be nicer than a wall of bulkheads that were built for a port that no longer exists. (Dad was a longshoreman at Port of SF, it was once a really amazing bustling place)

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