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City Hall gives thumbs up to Pier 29 retail

“Mall on waterfront” opposition comes up short, but deal isn’t done yet

A yellow streetcar rolling by the bulkhead building at Pier 29. Photo by Tony Webster

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave a nominal thumbs up Tuesday to a 15-year plan to convert part of Pier 29 into a retail center for San Francisco craft goods, although the deal is not done yet.

The City Hall call to accept the term sheet means that developer Jamestown now goes back to the Port Commission to negotiate a final deal.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the neighborhood around Pier 29, offered his qualified support before a quick and easy unanimous endorsement.

Pier 29 today, mostly used for parking.
Adam L Brinklow

“Not everyone is sanguine,” said Peskin. “Many years ago there was a promise of active recreation space around the northeast waterfront, and many of my constituents have been trying to get the port to fulfill that promise. There has been some concern that this lease might foreclose on that.”

But after getting the developer’s promise not to try to expand beyond 22,000 feet of space—about one fifth the overall size of the building—and a pledge from the Port to begin entertaining plans for recreation around the site, Peskin and other city lawmakers gave the go-ahead.

The bulkhead building at Pier 29 has been mostly vacant for years now. Last year the Port endorsed Jamestown’s proposal to set up a shop selling SF Made goods there.

Jamestown promises not to mess with the ceiling either.

But that idea conflicts with the voter-approved 1997 Waterfront Plan and drew the ire of Jon Golinger, the man who successfully led the charge against the 8 Washington development years ago.

Golinger dubbed the retail proposal a “mall on the waterfront” and sought to block it.

“There’s only a handful of these spots in the city or in the world,” he told Curbed SF in February, speaking of the bulkhead building’s historic value. “It’s almost impossible to calculate their value.”

Jamestown VP Remy Monteko has insisted “This is not a mall” on multiple occasions. So far city agencies have favored the lease deal in a series of smooth proceedings, though the challenges have set the developer’s original timeline back.

New designs for the interior space are not yet available. Jamestown and the port have promised not to alter the exterior of the old building.