While the Port of San Francisco is in the process of updating its Waterfront Land Use Plan and examining potential uses for the City’s prominent Piers 30-32, the 13-acre site is likely to remain a deteriorating parking lot with sweeping Bay views for at least another decade, and possibly two or three.
Originally constructed in 1912, extended in 1926, and expanded in 1950, Piers 30-32 were granted to the City of San Francisco by the state, “for purposes of commerce, navigation, and fisheries, and subject to specified terms and conditions relating to the operation of the Port of San Francisco.” And as such, any private redevelopment or re-purposing the piers will be a regulatory challenge, as the Warriors learned the hard way.
At the same time, the poor condition of the piers and a preliminary Federal Emergency Management Agency flood hazard designation for the site would likely require an investment of at least $165 million to simply stabilize the site for redevelopment. Again, as the Warriors learned the hard way.
Removing the existing piers, raising the Seawall and building a floating open space on the site, which could be leased for events and as a deep water dock, would cost over $700 million and yield an expected negative 96 percent return on that investment over the next 30 years. Building a new marina, dock and retail wharf on the site would cost an estimated $466 million and yield an expected return of negative 85 percent. And simply removing the piers would only cost $40 million but would result in the loss of an estimated $21 million in future parking and event revenue.
But with minimal structural repairs every five years, the Port estimates the existing piers and use could last another 20 to 30 years, which would cost an estimated $6 million in Capital Costs but yield a 350 percent return on that investment.
And given the numbers above, unless a “big idea” emerges, “where location matters much more than cost” and which is sponsored by a development partner “who is willing to obtain state legislation authorizing their project and has the patience to navigate a complicated State and City regulatory process,” the Piers 30-32 site could very well look the same in 20 to 30 years as it does today.
Well, it could look somewhat the same in two to three decades. For even with a bit of periodic maintenance, portions of Piers 30-32 will likely start to fail in 5 or 10 years, at which point Port engineers would simply barricade the failed areas. And of course, all bets are off if – or rather when – there’s a moderate to major earthquake.