Destination Hotel in San Francisco Readies for $45MM Overhaul

Holiday Inn—Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, Bay Area, North Beach, San Francisco Travel Association

By Michele Chandler

The Holiday Inn—Fisherman’s Wharf at 1300 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood has applied to undertake a major redo.

The five-story hotel is slated to undergo a $45 million renovation, according to plans filed with the San Francisco Planning Department on July 20.

The first planning entitlement application for the proposed hotel expansion was submitted to the city on Aug. 23, said an email from Eiliesh Tuffy, staff contact for the Planning Department. The property’s owner is listed as CFW 55 Owner LLC of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Tuffy said.

The Holiday Inn proposal calls for a four-story addition along North Point Street, where surface parking now exists. As proposed, the project would add 97,900 square feet, boosting the number of hotel rooms to 516 from the current 342 rooms.

On the ground floor, 8,400 square feet of commercial space would be added, according to the plan. The number of parking spots would be reduced to 166 from the current 220. In addition, 38 bicycle parking spaces will be added. There is no bicycle parking on the site currently.

The hotel property is located within the area covered by the NorthEastern Waterfront Area Plan in San Francisco’s General Plan. The site is roughly bounded by Beach Street to the north, Taylor Street to the east, Columbus Avenue and Leavenworth Street to the west and North Point Street to the south.

“Generally, the plan encourages a diversification of uses in the area so that it appeals to a broad spectrum of the population and expands use and activation beyond peak periods (e.g., summer use by tourists),” according to the proposal. “While the proposed project is primarily an expansion of an existing hotel use, this expansion will not displace any existing uses that contribute to the area’s vitality.”

The city did ask for clarification about retail use along most of the ground floor frontage. “It’s unclear in the current proposal whether the retail spaces will be primarily accessed from within the hotel or from the street itself. The design of the retail spaces should be oriented toward the street to encourage pedestrian access/use,” said the city’s report.

The hotel’s upgrades require public outreach before the Planning Commission holds a hearing on a Conditional Use Authorization and Variance application request. The developer is required to conduct an additional outreach meeting, notifying owners and tenants who live within 300 feet of the project, along with all registered neighborhood organizations for the North Beach neighborhood, after the Planning Department has provided initial design comments.

The project’s sponsor, Reuben, Junius and Roses, did not respond to a request for comment.

Hotels in Fisherman’s Wharf have “always had a super-high occupancy level, always and forever,” said Rick Swig, president of hospitality industry consulting firm RSBA & Associates in San Francisco. “In those types of locations, in a high-density leisure market, which runs over 80 percent [occupancy], every time you go into renovation, it’s going to cost you displacement because you have so much demand.”

As a result, he said, most hotels “go under the knife” in the less busy winter months.

Fisherman’s Wharf-area hotels saw occupancy rates of about 87 percent at the end of last year, compared to about 85 percent for hotels in the rest of the city, he said. Between 1,500 and 1,600 new hotel rooms are slated to open throughout the city during the next two years, he said.

The number of visitors to the city in 2016 rose 2 percent to 24.4 million, according to the San Francisco Travel Association. Of those, 10.2 million were overnight visitors and generated 86 percent of visitor spending, the association found.

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