Nine Proposals Vie to Transform Presidio’s Fort Winfield Scott in San Francisco

WeWork, Tesla, Fort Winfield Scott, Presidio district, Presidio Trust, National Park Service, Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco

By Michele Chandler

A diverse group ranging from shared-workspace innovator WeWork to an artificial intelligence research firm founded by electric car maker Tesla, Inc. founder Elon Musk are vying to revamp San Francisco’s historic Fort Winfield Scott, a sprawling complex located in the city’s waterfront Presidio district.

In total, nine groups responded to a Request for Proposals that was released in January 2018 by the Presidio Trust, a federal agency that manages the 1,500-acre park in partnership with the National Park Service. Constructed on a former military post, the complex is now a major outdoor recreation site and is home to 3,000 residents and about 200 organizations.

Costs to refashion the 272,000 square feet of interior space located within 22 Spanish colonial barracks that date back to 1912 could reach between $150 million to $200 million, according to media reports.

A request for comment from the Presidio Trust about the renovation effort drew this response from spokesperson Lisa Petrie: “Unfortunately, the team is unable to take media inquiries during this time, as they are dealing with a very tight window in which to evaluate proposals and make recommendations to the Board. Please encourage the public to review the proposals and comment:”

Josh Bagley, a project manager at the Presidio Trust, said last fall that the goal of the renovation was to create a campus of “mission-driven” organizations or joint venture-partnership groups that want to find solutions for major social and environmental challenges.

Proposals from governmental entities or foreign corporations will not be considered, the Presidio Trust said, while applicants are expected to possess “the financial and management capacity to finance and oversee the rehabilitation of the buildings and then operate the buildings under a long-term lease with the Presidio Trust. ”

Public comment on the concept proposals can be submitted until July 23 by emailing Comments may also be mailed to the Presidio Trust, Attn: Josh Bagley, 103 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94129.

The Presidio Trust board will consider the concept proposals at its public meeting on July 25, to be held on the Presidio complex at the Presidio Officers’ Club, 50 Moraga Avenue in San Francisco.

Uses proposed for the site include offices, hotels, co-working space, restaurants, retreat centers and meeting areas. “This is a once in a generation opportunity to make a place for change in the world,” said a statement from the Presidio Trust, a federal agency that manages the historic park in partnership with the National Park Service.

The nine groups that responded with proposals now being considered are:

  1. Kilroy Realty Corp., the second-largest landlord in San Francisco, partnered with OpenAI, Elon Musk’s nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The partners designed a campus to house OpenAI teams and also serve as a temporary residence for visiting researchers, interns and scholars.
  2. WeWork Cos. Inc., one of the world’s largest operators of shared working spaces, wants to host an incubator for mission-driven groups. They’ve also proposed WeGrow, a children’s school, and WeWork Labs, a home for startups.
  3. A team of organizations including the Concrete Preservation Institute, Cross Street Partners and McCormack Baron Salazar wants to create a model training center to help members of the military transition to civilian life, a need they call “a critical social challenge.” Training in cybersecurity would be a focus there.
  4. John Stewart Co., developer of affordable and market-rate housing, has proposed housing, ranging from efficiency units to two-story lofts. The San Francisco-based company’s proposal includes a “community enrichment district” with a regional hospitality innovation retreat center, nonprofit office space, artists’ studios and restaurants.
  5. Affordable developer Equity Community Builders of San Francisco is partnering with the World Economic Forum to create a “Campus for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” to host technology groups, nonprofit arts and culture-related organizations. Government and international organizations, academic institutions and restaurants are also planned.
  6. The California Clean Energy Fund, a private equity and venture capital firm, is teaming up with The EPIC Institute, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program. The team proposed “Epicenter for Climate Solutions,” a climate-oriented campus with a climate change tracking facility, earth data observatory, boutique hotel and affordable housing.
  7. Seneca Family of Agencies, a California nonprofit mental health agency, wants to create expanded services for children including a charter school and, possibly, low-income housing and a hotel.
  8. Star Alliance is proposing the Star Alliance Academy, an education center for leadership training for teachers and other professionals, as well a media center.
  9. The Renewable Nations Institute has proposed the “National Center for Work-Learning-Service and Leadership in Sustainability,” consisting of a consortium of university-based business and engineering schools.
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