Presidio’s Fort Scott in San Francisco Awaits Final Redevelopment Proposals Due This Month

San Francisco, Presidio Trust, Fort Scott, National Park Service, Equity Community Builders, EPIC Institute, Kilroy Realty Corporation, WeWork,
Photo by Charity Vargas

By Rebekka Wiedenmeyer

The Presidio Project is nearing its next phase of planning as the San Francisco-based Presidio Trust announced in September 2018 its four hand-picked finalists moving forward in the Request for Proposal process. The teams will be collaborating to create a proposal that will help rehabilitate the historical Fort Winfield Scott to create a public space for environmental and social change. Nine proposals were submitted for the project, but four teams were chosen to move forward in the process: Campus for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Epicenter for Climate Solutions, OpenAI and WeWork Campus at Fort Scott. The four teams will have until March 14th to develop a joint proposal that not only meets the submittal requirements, objectives and elements of the project but will also fulfill the mission-driven purpose the Presidio Trust strongly believes the campus should provide.

“Fort Scott has long been thought of as a place for a higher purpose,” said Josh Bagley, deputy chief business officer for the Presidio Trust and project manager for the Presidio Project. “We were really focused on finding an outcome that develops a mission-driven campus that’s focused on environmental and social change.”

Fort Winfield Scott, located on the western part of the Presidio, was originally purposed as an independent post for the Coast Artillery Corps and the headquarters of the Artillery District of San Francisco. It was transferred to the National Park Service in 1994, and as of January 2018, the Presidio Trust has announced its plan to rehabilitate the nearly 300,000 square feet of historic buildings and 30 acres of cultural space to “create a campus for change,” according to its Request for Concept Proposals.

Initially, the Request for Concept Proposals asked for teams to develop detailed outlines for how they intended to rehabilitate the property, but after discussion among the finalists, they approached the Presidio Trust with a different plan in mind.

“The decision to come together as one proposal was really the teams working among themselves,” Bagley said. “When they did come to us, they said, ‘Hey, we’ve spent some time working together on how we might come together as one, and therefore we’ll need a little extra time to work on the proposal.’”

Bagley added the board approved the request because more time would allow the teams to develop a solid proposal.

Based on the initial proposals provided by each team, Bagley said the Presidio Trust has some idea of what each of the groups is thinking from a focus standpoint. However, it will be entirely up to them to decide which tasks will be focused on by which group, and how they will decide to utilize the campus.

According to the teams’ individual proposals submitted in June 2018, the Campus for the Fourth Industrial Revolution originally proposed the Equity Community Builders and World Economic Forum, which would address the effects of technological innovation on human needs and encompass more than 330,000 gross square feet in two new, and 22 rehabilitated historic, buildings. The Epicenter for Climate Solutions focused on the California Clean Energy Fund and EPIC Institute, which would be a center that would focus on climate change solutions, with 20,000 square feet of new construction. OpenAI proposed by the OpenAI and Kilroy Realty Corporation, which would focus on advocating and brainstorming ways to use artificial intelligence positively, with a new 20,000 square foot building on the former Parade Ground. The WeWork Campus at Fort Scott, proposed by WeWork Companies, Inc., would be a 150,000 square foot multi-use campus for non-profit organizations and social enterprises, with 60,000 square feet dedicated to WeGrow and Flatiron schools.

As the teams work together, it is a waiting game to see which elements of their original proposals will find their way to the joint proposal, which is due March 14th.

Overall project objectives outlined in the initial RFPs are to rehabilitate historic uses, provide a model of environmental sustainability (which Bagley emphasized should be not only in design and construction but also all the way through to operations), enhance the public realm, support financial sustainability and deliver the project expeditiously.

Specific required elements include restoring the culturally significant and ecologically rich Fort Scott parade ground, upgrading the utility infrastructure to support the reuse of the Fort Winfield Scott campus, temporarily or permanently relocating the United States Park Police and restoring and making available to the public the historic murals in Building 1216. Other elements include rehabilitating Buildings 1203 to 1208, 1213, 1214, 1216 to 1221, 1224 to 1227, plus associated landscape and hardscape, in compliance with historic preservation requirements and to a minimum of LEED Silver Certification, and implementing an intensive transportation demand management program to include mobility service options.

Bagley was quick to point out key components the Presidio Trust would like and expect to see from the teams March 14th.

“A key component would be that all of the open space would remain in the public realm,” he said. “It won’t be a private campus at any point.”

This could potentially include adding public food services and a transit center, which are also required elements of the proposal request, along with maintaining accessibility to the trails which intersect the area.

“The things that enhance the public realm are really important to us,” he said.

Another challenge of the project that the Presidio Trust hopes will be solved by the teams’ proposal is a lengthy time frame. Negotiating a deal and working with the laws that delegate the space can be time-consuming. Bagley said as the project stands now, the timeline is projected to be about three to five years, but that entirely depends on the teams and how it is outlined in the proposal.

“Depending on how they phase it, maybe some buildings come online sooner than others, but [the teams] will really have to drive that part of the equation in terms of their project planning,” Bagley said.

Bagley also mentioned the budget for the project will likely cost in the $200 million range, but said again this will be up to the teams, how they frame their proposal and whether or not they decide to implement some of the optional elements listed in the request, which include but are not limited to reorganizing and expanding the ballfields at the north end of the parade ground and constructing a multi-use trail at the northern end of the campus for bicycle and pedestrian use.

Ultimately, the Presidio Trust hopes the proposal will protect Fort Winfield Scott and help rehabilitate it for a greater purpose. Bagley said if they receive a proposal that does not do that, then the project will not move forward.

“That’s one thing we’ve always been clear of in this process,” he said. “Fort Scott is a really special place, and it’s placed in a special national park, so if we don’t get a proposal to protect it, then we will frankly put Fort Scott on the shelf and focus on it sometime down the road.”

The proposal is due March 14th, and on April 24th the Trust will hold a public board meeting where the teams will do a public presentation of their proposal. Public comment is welcome and encouraged at that time, along with public feedback online when the proposal is posted to the website.

The board will consider its decision on May 23rd.

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