Mission Bay Is Alive!


Life-science hub Mission Bay reaches ‘critical mass.’


By Barbara E. Hernandez

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile the financial crisis halted most commercial development five years ago, the University of California, San Francisco, never seemed to stop building at Mission Bay. In 2010, the university broke ground on the 289-bed, $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center. By 2015, UCSF expects to finish a $3.4 billion Mission Bay campus with biomedical-research buildings, housing, clinics and a new hospital. More public investment is to follow.

The private sector has swooped in behind, building thousands of new apartments, condominiums and laboratory and office space. Not quite 5,100 homes are built, in planning or under construction. That excludes roughly 500 housing units at UCSF itself and another 500 on the books.

[pullquote_right]In 2011 and 2012, the National Institutes of Health sent more than $500 million in grants a year to the University of California, San Francisco, twice the annual NIH funding that the school drew in 2007.[/pullquote_right]Private developers have erected 1.7 million square feet of biotech office space while various foundations have built 424,000 square feet more. In total, the city of San Francisco has approved 4.4 million square feet of office and lab space in the enclave—excluding the UCSF campus.

Mission Bay has blossomed in the last decade as the university became one of the National Institutes of Health’s largest public recipients of grant funding in the nation. In 2011 and 2012 combined, more than $1 billion in NIH grants went to the San Francisco university. “We have created a critical mass of programs [at Mission Bay] along with our new hospital,” Lori Yamauchi, UCSF assistant vice chancellor of campus planning, told the San Francisco Planning Commission earlier this year.

In its 17 years, UCSF Mission Bay has grown to 57 acres, roughly a sixth of the 303 acres that make up the neighborhood. It has also become the locus of UCSF growth and will continue to be. UCSF focuses solely on teaching health sciences to nearly 3,000 graduate students plus 1,000 post-doctoral scholars. It is the city’s second-largest employer with 22,500 full- and part-time staff and faculty.

Currently at Mission Bay, UCSF is constructing the 878,000-square-foot women’s, children’s and cancer medical complex that will open in February 2015 and Mission Hall, a 275,000-square-foot building that will house Global Health & Clinical Sciences, scheduled to open in mid-2014.

Two years ago, UCSF launched its land planning for the next 22 years. The growth—from 8 million square feet today to 10.5 million in 2035—will primarily occur at Mission Bay, as it has for the last 15 years.

Under its new Long Range Development Plan, UCSF hopes to build an additional 984,300 square feet of research-instruction-office space to add to its already planned 2.3 million square feet. About 724,000 square feet of research space and 28,000 square feet of instruction space are also proposed for the middle of the campus. UCSF proposes another 523 units of housing in the northwest corner of the Mission Bay campus to reach a total of almost 1,000. It also promises retail pavilions in 3.2-acre Koret Quad, a full-size sports field, a revamped transportation plan and permanent child care facilities.

As it maps out Mission Bay plans, UCSF already knows that it needs to take the interim step of finding 300,000 square feet of office space near the campus to centralize UCSF staff. “It could be a lease or something else, such as a build-to-suit,” said Esther Morales, UCSF’s real estate services executive director.

The entire Mission Bay project required $700 million in infrastructure and improvements, paid by taxes and assessments. It is expected to have in total more than $4 billion in development. The city hopes to have 6,000 homes and 4.4 million square feet of office space at Mission Bay, excluding the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

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Photography by Laura Kudritzki


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