Warriors’, Giants’ Mission Bay Mixed-Use Projects Moving Forward Despite Barriers

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Mission Bay Warriors Arena

By Nancy Amdur

Two mixed-use projects by local professional sports teams planned in San Francisco’s Mission Bay district are winding their way through snags coming from residents and city officials concerned about issues such as affordable housing and traffic.

The San Francisco Giants recently agreed to boost the amount of affordable housing included in its proposed 28-acre Mission Rock development across from AT&T Park after city Supervisor Jane Kim announced plans to introduce a November ballot measure proposing more affordable housing be included in the project.

[contextly_sidebar id=”Qzarf5tnMUM5pGe7LfdQP4OrZP7Cex1Z”]In response, the Giants agreed to increase its affordable housing component from 33 percent to 40 percent to serve low- and middle-income families, said Staci Slaughter, a spokesperson for the Giants. The project calls for 1,500 rental apartments.

Mission Rock would sit on a waterfront site managed by the Port of San Francisco. It is now used as a Giants’ surface parking lot and is bounded by the China Basin Channel, Third Street, Mission Rock Street and San Francisco Bay. The Giants plan to place the project on the November ballot because it would exceed maximum allowed height limits for that area and, under Proposition B, requires voter approval. The project’s tallest building would be a 240-foot residential tower, and waterfront height limits range from 40 to 105 feet.

Kim along with all other members of the city’s Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee have now supported the Giants’ ballot measure.

Other Mission Rock components include 1 to 1.7 million square feet of office space, 250,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and public amenities and eight acres of parks and opens space. Also, Pier 48 would house alcoholic beverage producer Anchor Brewing Co.’s production and distribution facilities along with a public boardwalk. No buildings will be built within 100 feet of the bay, according to the Giants’ plan.

“We are delighted that the members of the Board of Supervisors have signed on in support of the community’s vision to open access along the waterfront, create new jobs, provide neighborhood-serving retail and to build new parks and an unprecedented level of affordable housing,” said Giants President and CEO Laurence Baer in a statement.

The Giants have been working on the project for eight years and have conducted much community outreach while forming plans, said Patrick Valentino, vice president of the South Beach Mission Bay Merchants Association and a South Beach resident, who supports the project.

“No city [becomes] great because of its parking lot,” Valentino said, “it becomes great because of its great places. This is an opportunity to build a neighborhood in what is now a giant parking lot.”

The Giants look to begin construction on Mission Rock in 2017, Slaughter said.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors are moving forward with plans to build an 18,000-seat arena a few blocks south of AT&T Park on a 12-acre site bordered by Third, 16th and South streets and Terry François Boulevard. The draft environmental impact report for the proposed project was released last month and is in the midst of a public comment period that runs through July 20.

Opposition recently came from the Mission Bay Alliance, a deep-pocketed coalition of University of California, San Francisco, stakeholders, donors, faculty and physicians, who raised concerns about traffic, especially related to ambulances’ and other emergency vehicles’ access to the nearby UCSF Hospital.

“The key issue is one of traffic and safety,” said Sam Singer, a spokesman for the alliance. “The Mission Bay Alliance believes the stadium would lead to gridlock in San Francisco that would impact the ability of people to reach the emergency room at UCSF.”

Also, the alliance hired “some top California environmental lawyers to evaluate” the EIR “because we don’t believe it passes muster,” Singer said.

Additionally, last week, the California Nurses Association announced it opposes the Warriors stadium proposal due to concerns about how traffic would impact patient health.

“The addition of a large sports and entertainment complex adjacent to our healthcare facilities would likely limit our ability to protect thousands of children and adults each day,” said Randy Howell, a registered nurse who works at UCSF Mission Bay, in a statement.

Hospital and city officials have supported the project, said Warriors spokesman P.J. Johnston.

He also said that there are 17 other arenas located within one mile of a hospital around the nation and access has not been hindered. Further, the city plans to have a dedicated traffic lane for emergency vehicles, Johnston said.

The alliance has said it would litigate against the project “until the cows come home,” Johnston said. “We can’t stop them from suing,” but the EIR was given state certification to be expedited, allowing for just 270 days to rule on any lawsuit contesting the report, he said.

The arena plan includes building two office towers comprising 500,000 square feet and 950 parking spaces. Singer said only about 200 spaces would be available to the stadium as the remainder would be dedicated for office users.
“That’s like trying to jam an elephant into a Volkswagen,” Singer said. “It just doesn’t work.”

Johnston said parking spaces would be available for the Warriors to use in the evenings. Also, another 6,000 to 9,000 parking spaces are available in blocks surrounding the proposed arena, depending on the day and time, and the Warriors plan to buy the rights to 100 spaces in an existing parking garage on South Street, he added. The venue is expected to be used for 225 other events, such as concerts and conventions, each year.

“A lot of the neighbors who live between Dogpatch, Potrero, Mission Bay and South Beach are for [the project],” Valentino said, in part because it will give the area “a sense of place.”

“It creates a little bit of a buzz for our neighborhood and maybe brings in more retail, restaurants [and] activities,” he said.

“From our standpoint, it’s still a fairly straightforward process,” Johnston said, adding that the project will be privately funded on private land. The Warriors agreed to purchase the land from Salesforce.com, which had entitled it for 1.5 million square feet of office space, he said.

A final EIR is expected to be complete this fall. The Warriors seek to open the new arena for the 2018-19 basketball season.

Mission Rock, the Warriors stadium and Cleveland-based real estate company Forest City’s plans for a mixed-use development nearby on Pier 70 all would enhance the area, Valentino said. “If you could snap your fingers and those were done right now—what a cool, urban place to be,” he said.

Image courtesy of MANICA Architecture and rendered by steelblue

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