SAN FRANCISCO–The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) announced today that Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan will be retiring effective April 30, 2016, from the Transbay Program after 18 years of dedication and numerous achievements. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan has served as the first and only Executive Director of the TJPA and launched the multi-billion-dollar Transbay Transit Center Program that spurred the surrounding transit-oriented mixed-use development in the area with thousands of new residential units and millions of square feet of commercial space.
In her role as Executive Director, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was responsible for developing the strategy and vision for the new Transbay Transit Center and advancing the Program and its associated development through regulatory approvals at the federal, state, regional and local levels of government. She also was instrumental in securing billions in funding for the Program’s completion from public and private sources and developing enterprise revenue streams. Additionally, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan spearheaded the stakeholder processes that generated vast support for the Transbay Program, and brought it to fruition.
“I am proud of the cutting-edge standards set under my leadership for the engineering, design, and construction of our ‘Grand Central of the West Coast,’” said Ayerdi-Kaplan. “Serving the people of the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 18 years has been a privilege and honor. Creating an international model for sustainable transit based urban development which also includes beautiful art, a 5.4-acre public roof-top park, children’s playground and community amphitheater, enclosed with an exterior awning co-designed with Sir Roger Penrose to signify the importance of math and science to the Bay Area, has been the experience of a lifetime and one that I will always cherish. I am, and will always remain, grateful that I was given the opportunity to deliver a landmark to San Francisco for generations to enjoy.”
During Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s tenure, she presided over the international design competition that selected the architect and vision for the Program, as well as led a diverse team of subject matter experts, including engineering, design, finance, legal, security, construction, marketing and public relations professionals. Having brought the Program within less than two years of opening, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan will now be retiring from the Transbay Program in order to pursue other exciting and challenging opportunities.
“Under Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan’s leadership, Transbay has risen from the ground and will soon become the ‘Grand Central Station of the West,’” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Maria has helped shape the future of transportation in the Bay Area, and her imprint on Transbay will be appreciated for decades to come.”
From the beginning, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan has been forward-thinking about the financial needs of the Program. As an aggressive advocate for its funding, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan closed many real estate transactions critical to the Program’s success, including land acquisitions with a value of nearly $100 million and the purchase of 26 private properties required for construction of the Program. She also successfully negotiated the transfer of nearly 20 acres of land from Caltrans at no cost to help fund the Program. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan led the negotiations for the sale of this land for a value of more than $660 million and secured the pledge of redevelopment tax increment for another approximately $1 billion in funding. Additionally, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan attained millions of dollars in grants from state and federal sources, including a $171 million Department of Transportation TIFIA loan, a $400 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant from the Federal Railroad Administration, and an expected more than $600 million from a Mello-Roos Community Facilities District.
Under Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s leadership, the Transbay Program created more than 13,500 construction related jobs across 30 states in the United States and hundreds of other non-construction related jobs through the award of 88 professional service contracts at a value of more than $350 million dollars and 51 construction contracts over $907 million.
“I want to thank Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan for her service on behalf of our City. Her work has helped to change the face of the Transbay neighborhood and our skyline forever and will connect our City, region and state,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Beyond her impact on the construction and design, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was successful in making the Transbay Program an inclusive one. She negotiated and executed a historic Program Labor Agreement with 28 signatory unions and awarded hundreds of millions of contracts to small, woman-owned, minority-owned, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned companies. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan also made youth outreach an integral part of the Transbay Program by mentoring students and building a robust internship Program. Additionally, she made the TJPA the first public works project in United States history to specifically extend an invitation to the LGBT business community to participate in a competitive bidding process.
“There are very few women in the construction and real estate development industry, and I thank Maria for her tireless work to make the Transbay Project a reality,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, a member of the TJPA Board of Directors. “She is a remarkable woman, and I extend my gratitude to her for her dedication to public service and our City.”
Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan’s accomplishments on the Transbay Program have been recognized by many organizations. Among her honors are being named a Top 25 Newsmaker of 2015 by Engineering News Record, as well as receiving the Applied Technology Council and Structural Engineering Institute Award for Extraordinary Innovation in Seismic Protection of Buildings in 2015, the Women’s Construction Owners and Executives Influential Woman in Business Award in 2015, and the San Francisco Business Times’ 2014 Real Estate Deal Maker of the Year Award for negotiating the sale of TJPA property for the construction of the Salesforce Tower for $192 million, at the time the highest price paid per square foot of land in San Francisco history.
“My work over the past 18 years to deliver an entirely new urban center for San Francisco with measurable economic value to the region has been a remarkable period in my life,” said Ayerdi-Kaplan. “It gives me great joy to know that a woman and a Latina made history by delivering the new jewel of downtown San Francisco. I thank everyone that helped me along the way and was part of delivering not only a transit center but also a new mixed-use urban heart for the Bay Area which will stand as a source of civic pride for travelers and visitors in this century and beyond.”
About the Transbay Transit Center
The Transbay Transit Center, known as the “Grand Central Station of the West,” is a revolutionary state-of-the art transportation facility that will transform the South of Market neighborhood into the new heart of downtown. The Transit Center will connect eight Bay Area counties and 11 transit systems, including future California High-Speed Rail. The Transbay Transit Center Phase 1 is scheduled to open in late 2017. To learn more about the Program, please visit our website at www.TransbayCenter.org.
The Transbay Transit Center Program is made possible in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation, State of California, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Proposition K Sales Tax dollars provided by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, San Mateo County Transportation Authority and AC Transit.