The final approvals for the redevelopment of San Francisco’s 28-acre Pier 70 site, the height limits for which were increased by voters back in 2014, were secured by the development team this afternoon.

Depending upon whether Forest City maximizes the Central Waterfront site for residential or commercial use, the 28-acre assemblage will yield between 1,100 and 2,150 residential units; up to 1.75 million square feet of office space; and up to 445,000 square feet of space for retail, light industrial and arts uses along with up to 2,450 off-street parking spaces and nine acres of open space.

And while Forest City is planning to break ground early next year, keep in mind that the overall development – which includes the construction of new buildings up to 90 feet in height, intermingled with a few rehabilitated structures across the site – is expected to take between 10 and 15 years to complete with a current plan which could be completed in around eleven (11).

The redevelopment of Pier 70’s Historic Core, which is a separate six-acre project, is already underway while plans for an adjacent seven-acre Pier 70 parcel fronting Illinois Street, to the west of Irish Hill, have yet to be set.

51 thoughts on “Massive Pier 70 Project Approved”
  1. I do hope they go with a maximum housing component with the commercial aspect limited to retail and entertainment.

  2. The City needs more housing. When it is public land like this – the project should be required to build more of it….

  3. This SF Chronicle article says the max commercial space was reduced: “Sylvan counted the board vote as a win, but it was also a small political victory for Potrero Boosters President J.R. Eppler, who got Forest City to reduce the amount of commercial space from 2.3 million to 1.75 million square feet.”

    Any word on that and how the housing numbers (not mentioned there) are expected to play out, given this information prior?

    1. Good catch.

      As since corrected above, while the final development agreement for the greater Pier 70 site reduced the maximum office space to 1.75 million square feet, the master plan for Forest City’s 28-acre parcel still calls for a minimum of 1,100 and a maximum of 2,150 residential units to be built, 30 percent of which will be offered at below market rates, with up to 445,000 square feet of space for retail, light industrial and arts uses and parking for up to 2,450 cars.

      But the housing totals above don’t include the future development of a separate 7-acre Pier 70 assemblage fronting Illinois Street, to the west of Irish Hill. And the commonly stated range of between a minimum of 1,645 and a maximum of 3,025 residential units to be built upon the “Pier 70” site covers all 35 acres.

      Our apologies for any confusion.

  4. Flexibility? Like building 3,000 new houses at, oh, say about 1-foot above current sea elevation? Suspend your disbelief folks. These developers will be long gone when this ‘new’ community cries foul as waves lap in the lobby. Taxpayers will undoubtedly end up building fortifications here, and along most of the rest of the bay. But we do have a sea rise/climate change policy…. it’s called Denial.

    1. I just read excerpts from the Plan that include strategies for adapting to a 48” rise at the shoreline and 66” rise farther back. I figure you must have read these too — they’re pretty prominent features of the plan, hard to ignore —and yet you still make these predictions. Why?

      1. That should be obvious. It’s because some people still insist on building right up to the water’s edge.

        1. No, that’s not what I’m asking. Why is building near the water’s edge a problem if the ground elevation is set to accommodate sea level rise? And take it a step farther — if the development agreements require the project to adapt the entire site and its sea wall for sea-level rise, well ahead of the surrounding properties, isn’t that the right first step to take? Assuming the rest of the City has to follow suit anyway, that’s one less chunk of seawall the city would need to build.

  5. Is the area west of Irish Hill the PKS parcel? Taking the top range of numbers it looks like they may fit more than 900 units on that relatively small piece of land – compared to the rest of the development. Much more housing intensive than the core of the Pier 70 development. Unfortunate so little housing could end up being built there. Lowering the office component is good but it was not lowered near enough.

    HP/CP will have up to 4.5 million feet of office space – hopefully there will be a reduction in the office component there too. Just much more meaningful. As in cut it in half. HP/CP does not need 4.5 million feet of offices as Baylands will have almost 9 million feet.

      1. ITA. The minimal housing is not acceptable. Several tech companies appealed to Brisbane this past summer to significantly up the housing component – Salesforce and Google were among them. Baylands as proposed is what you get when there is no regional planning authority with teeth. This would not happen in the Silicon Forest.

  6. There are already several significant and massive developments in SE SF with lots of housing planned. Making this Area office oriented is a good idea, and having a 10-15 year roll out is wise as well. Don’t want to risk too quickly over developing this part of the city- and jeopardizing future property and rent values.

  7. Why is everything spoon fed to us parcel by parcel? Where is the big picture analysis? Oh, that’s right. Because all paid trolls aside, if the voting public (which again and again has made it very clear that the city is overbuilt and needs to push back on further overbuilding) had any idea just how much more stuff is getting crammed into the city over the next few years, there would be a political upheaval akin to the Difi tall towers pushback or the Willie Brown shakeout. So we’re spoon fed. But if you back out your google map from the relatively small area of this Potrero Point plan, you will see plans everywhere.

    Huge plans for tens of thousands of units in a city that has already added 80,000 registered voters in just the last few years. It is going to create astonishing overcrowding of our streets and public spaces, overwhelm our utilities, and even our cell phone towers. Its just nuts. A runaway train.

    The only people supporting this stuff on this scale are the people directly profiting from it, and most of them don’t live here. Its all these national companies building me-too’s in everyplace from Texas to Tuscaloosa. They’s take the money and we’ll be left holding the bag.

    1. As an unpaid troll, let me say that I think managing population growth is a worldwide challenge, and cities need to step up to bat. SF could set a great example by accepting that tens of thousands more people will make this city home over the next few years, and managing its infrastructure to accommodate. It would be a better outcome environmentally than pushing that growth outward, increasing sprawl and its attendant issues.

      I’m not blind to the problems population growth causes in SF, but I don’t want to assume that if people are shoved somewhere else all the problems associated with that growth go away. Let’s accept we have a challenge and elevate our response.

      1. Unpaid here too – well said Richard. Paving over more farms and foothills isn’t a solution to the traffic and other challenges caused by population increase.

        @unlivable – We live in a popular part of the country – if you can’t stand the crowds but want to live in an urban setting, consider moving to Chicago or Detroit.

      2. Ha! Well you’re very civilized. Thank you. But these days what’s happening here is being called “vertical sprawl,” because it has all the same attendant issues. I believe that beautiful cities like San Francisco (and Paris) that are global attractions because of their physical beauty, are something to be passed down to future generations with care. Instead (and unlike Paris) San Francisco has been hijacked once again by greedy developers who are running way too much of the show. Its rubber stamp land and nobody is looking at the big picture of where all this will shake out once the spasm of cheap and/or shady money looking for someplace to park is over.

        1. Well, it was a bit harsh and it appears that not that many people want to live in Detroit these days, many preferring Seattle, Bay Area and San Diego.

          San Francisco is still a beautiful city but it does have an increased amount of traffic making it as much fun driving there as LA or San Diego. I don’t think that (re-)developing the abandoned industrial areas along the bay is a disaster for anybody – leaving them as ruins from a past era would be a travesty IMO.
          Paris has its share of new highrises…

        2. “what’s happening here is being called “vertical sprawl,” because it has all the same attendant issues.”

          Granted high rises increase the load on utilities but calling it sprawl conceals the fact that growing vertically is much better on the environment when it comes to preserving farmland, reducing travel times, and reducing energy consumption. Growing vertically is much greener than growing horizontally.

      3. The fallacy is that you assume SF has to absorb all of the housings (and presumably jobs) or there will be sprawl. Not true. Oakland is ripe for intense housing and office development. Oakland wants it – if there was a regional planning authority office construction in SF would be all but stopped for a decade and that development would be shifted to Oakland. Mitigating the housing crisis and the transportation crisis. Of course, if there were such an authority HSR would have gone to DTO – which it will, in the end, likely do.

        Have you ever driven down El Camino from Colma to Burlingame? A broad boulevard with 4 lanes in each direction at points. Surrounded by one and two story commercial buildings. That strip could be turned into mid-rise housing and provide tens of thousands of new units – instead of forcing 7000 plus units into the HUB which the city’s infrastructure can’t support.

        It makes no sense having the tech hubs completely in the SV and a spillover in SF. Oakland should be a major hub and the Concord area too. It’d make the commute from the Central Valley a lot shorter for thousands of workers.

        Hillsboro is one of the tech hubs of the SF and, when Amber was being planned, it was done so as to not worsen housing affordability for local residents and also not to significantly impact traffic in the greater region (force folks into long commutes) so the idea was that most of the thousands of new workers would life in the thousands of new housing units being built as part of the project. That type of regional planning allows the SF to have tech hubs scattered throughout the huge metro area and a burgeoning millennial/tech population which, while pushing housing prices up and adding to traffic, is being managed in a way one would never see in the Bay Area. Think Baylands.

        1. Of course Oakland deserves it’s share of new development as do the Central Valley cities. Putting new jobs in the Central Valley would be a win-win but you will have to convince Google, Oracle, Amazon, Uber, Kaiser, Wells Fargo, Etc. that they could have main offices there.

          1. I’m referring to putting tech hubs at the outer periphery of the Bay Area. Concord, Fairfield, Livermore. They wouldn’t be main offices but offices for the worker bees who clog the roads from the SV going east where many of them live. The land would be cheaper for the tech giants and provide a location where employees could afford nearby homes – making for a happier employee. Less tress from facing an up to 3 hour commute each day.

          2. Certainly a mixed bag in tech world. Would give Apple, Facebook & Oracle a big thumbs down on doubling down on Hwy 101 and Lower Bay bridges even though they talked the housing game. I think I ready somewhere that Facebook was willing to give money to study the addition of lanes to Dumbarton bridge. That is going backwards for its future workforce.

            I would give Google some credit for developing Downtown SJ for their future expansion that will in time be served by Electricified Caltrains, BART extension and at a minimum HSR from the Central Valley. At least Amazon went for downtown San Fran with BART access but it will be interesting how their HQ2 plays out – a down and out rust belt city and or a prime time coastal city with housing issues.

          3. @Dave – a lot of those worker bees are putting up with the drone work and long commutes, hoping to be part of the main hive where things are really buzzing and the honey flows… If you put a sub-office in the burbs you are not going to attract the best talent. Only real change would happen if the large companies would build a HQ 2 or a R&D campus in the periphery of the Bay Area or even in a different city like Sacramento or Irvine.

          4. For this to work you have to force the best talent to live on the periphery. That’s exactly backwards of societal trends, which are thT the best talent wants to live in cities.

          5. @SFRealist – you paint with too broad a brush. Some talent likes the burbs more than the city. Open space, a little room between their home and the next, better schools.. On my block two tech couples have recently moved out of SF for the Lafayette area with the birth of their first children. They are top talent and top earners and would give anything for their company to plant a presence in Oakland or Concord. They don’t miss living in SF at all – when you have kids getting out for a romantic dinner becomes a fairly rare event and restaurants are no longer one of the prime motivators as to where you live.

          6. Sure, there are individual examples to the contrary. But on aggregate, the overwhelming majority of top talent these days wants to live in cities. This is a significant change from 30 years ago.

          7. “But on aggregate, the overwhelming majority of top talent these days wants to live in cities.”

            That’s not really true. Much more true that the young flock to cities, as always, and that many eventually reach from greener pastures when children arrive and they tire of crime schools and congestion.

            Much of the drive towards urban areas was because of jobs, not preference.

            “Other trends among millennials, supposedly matters of lifestyle preference, have already turned out to have been driven mostly by economics. What was once deemed their broad preference for public transit may have always been a now-reversing inability to afford cars. Even decades-long trends towards marrying later have been accentuated as today’s young people struggle for financial stability.”

          8. Forgot the key quote: “Myers, too, says observers have confused young people’s presence in cities with a preference for cities. Survey data shows that more millennials would like to be living in the suburbs than actually are. But the normal career and family cycles moving young people from cities into suburban houses have become, in Myers’ words, “a plugged up drain.”

          9. Ok, one guy thinks otherwise.

            For everyone else, there’s the overwhelming evidence that top talent wants to live in cities. Forty years ago, the hottest companies were in SV, so their young (male) employees could own a house and drive to an office park every day. Today, young employees, male and female, want to live and work in SF. (And, to some degree, Oakland.)

          10. SS, I’m not sure how that link is relevant to my argument, which is that the best talent wants to live and work in cities these days. This is a big societal shift from even 20 years ago.

          11. And it’s not just millennials and not just SF. And not just one guy:

            “Many Millennials want what their parents had: a spacious, single-family home. But they can’t afford to leave their metropolitan lives.”

            And if anything top talent should have more options and ability to follow their preferences.

          12. You’re still not saying anything relevant to my point.

            I’m not making a point about all millennial. I’m making a point about the most talented employees, who can choose where to live. In aggregate they are choosing cities.

            Top talent is not moving to Modesto, regardless of how cheap it is.

          13. Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Salesforce, Dropbox, Twitter, Slack, Splunk, Twitch, New Relic,

            These companies choose to be in San Francisco. What is the comparable list for Modesto? For Oakland?

        2. Unpaid here as well.

          We can build housing in SF AND Oakland AND San Jose AND the peninsula. These are not mutually exclusive.

          NIMBYs in each place can, however, point to all the other places as a reason to slow things in their own city.

    2. I don’t disagree with you at all- but wouldn’t a viable solution (to address transportation infrastructure, and not other utilities) be to tax developers to help pay for transit that should come along with this dense infill? Where is the political will for that SF Master Subway plan? And will there be political will for a Second Transbay Tube if Regional Measure 3 is passed in June?

      Those are the aspects whose current lack of political attention concern me. I don’t want to feed chicken-and-egg NIMBY “you can’t build dense without transit” + “you can’t build transit if it isn’t dense”, but we need to switch into political overdrive on effective (read: underground trains) transportation support for the population.

  8. Let’s hope Forest City gets to work on building this project… I haven’t been that impressed with them and their slooooow start on the 5M project… Anyone one know whats going on with that? The lawsuit was denied in January from what I read.

  9. It makes little sense for large companies to keep lots of mid level employees in SF. They often will move back office, side office, etc. out of SF. But many existing small to mid size firms can’t/don’t want a second office location, so they will keep their workforce in SF. As for new companies coming into the city, it’s mostly new tech firms that need the SF footprint, or all their talent wants to live here. I don’t think that will change too much in the future. There are also many small boutique type business that fit well in SF, and who can afford the high office costs.

    So for all these examples we do want to develop new office space for them. It makes no sense to force new developments to be just bedroom communities. Especially as retail is weakening, we need to offer more flexibility in office space. And not just that politically motivated PDR BS either. Just more office space in former retail spaces; this should just be more fluid.

    The city has, and will continue to be a magnate for new ideas and new business. All this talk of just adding as much housing as possible, without balancing office, retail and other real estate needs is foolhardy. SF will always be expensive. The most aspirational people, business, entrepreneurs, etc. will seek to make it here. And when rents and housing get very high, peripheral areas, such as Oakland, benefit for it. That’s how it has worked, and how it should continue to work. Trying to add tons of housing here, to turn the city much more dense, will ruin what makes the city attractive and desirable to begin with. And I think sfgov has done their part with all the new development she planed for SE SF. Good thing it’s up to the developer to schedule the rate of housing, in keeping with market demand. 10-15 year time horizon is probably spot on, depending on externals like the economy, politics, etc. It’s good to be a property owner here, and the old SF needs to be balanced with the new SF. Think Goldilocks theory.

    1. The problem is the reverse – we are not adding as much housing as possible and especially vis a vis the new offices being added or planned. Which means increased unaffordability for residents, higher rents and such. It is because there is not enough housing that many homes in my area rent out rooms to techies who have no concern for the neighborhood. It is also why much of Sunset is being turned into an RH2 area despite not having the infrastructure capacity to handle it. News alert – what made the city special has to a large degree been ruined already. The quality of life here is poor in terms of many factors – not just housing issues. The BB and BART can’t handle more rush hour traffic. Portola and Sloat are clogged now with commuters trying to avoid 280 and 101. Lake Merced is parked up with many, many SUVs with people living in them because they can’t afford housing her. This is why so many are or would like to relocate to not just the Seattle but to other cities also.

      1. San Francisco has its challenges but Seattle has so many overcast/rainy days, it isn’t for everyone. I looked up a statistic to see how they measure up against other cities:

        Seattle, Washington % Clear 47 Annual sunshine hours 2170 Clear Days 58
        Sacramento, California % Clear 78 Annual sunshine hours 3608 Clear Days 188
        Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania % Clear 45 Annual sunshine hours 2021 Clear Days 59

        May help people to decide if it is for them, and also show a new front runner for Amazon HQ2

      2. I don’t agree at all Dave. I think the city is still great. I live, work and play here and I don’t need to commute across town every day. Neither do people who live and work here, at least those in the central areas close to soma and DT. And even a mini commute isn’t that bad; Bart locally is a cinch. And I still go to portola or lake Merced and other areas across town and they are still great.

        As for affordability- if you can take the heat get out of the kitchen. Yes it’s expensive here, but as a property owner I actually like that. Sorry, my personal prerogative is to keep rents high and new housing limited. Of course i don’t have to do anything about that as I have a lot of help with nimbys, nutty city politics, rent control, forced affordable housing, etc., etc., etc. That’s how top cities work. Neighborhoods gentrify and become expensive, and it’s onwards and upwards. Been a great ride the last 20+ years. And I sure am glad I don’t need to decamp to Seattle ☔️ rain.

      3. Count me as another who finds the quality of life pretty good. (If it was “ruined”, why do you still live here? Find a place where it isn’t ruined!)

        I can walk to work, to restaurants, to great sights in the city. It’s easy to get to the Giants games and soon to Warriors games. It’s not perfect, but what is? Have you ever actually been to Seattle and had to drive anywhere? It’s hell! As gridlocked as here, but worse because you have no choice but to drive.

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