Forest City redevelops Pier 70 San Francisco into an urban utopia of artists, makers and innovation.

Phase 1 redefined the community engagement process and created a national model of how to inclusively revitalize a derelict former industrial district.

In 2011, Forest City won the development rights to 28-acres of waterfront at Pier 70 through a public RFP process led by the San Francisco Port.  Pier 70 is a 69-acre historic shipbuilding district just south of the city.  It was the site of the first West Coast steel hull ship manufacturer and where much of the US World War II fleet was built.   The surrounding quiet neighborhoods are full of artists and inherently affordable housing, filling-in former warehouses and industrial buildings.  While the property is an extraordinary opportunity for redevelopment, it has several challenges.  It is outside of the core, far from transit, and the artists and lower-income residents have galvanized against development, fearing displacement.  Beyond that the site is enormous and has eight large historically significant buildings with extensive deferred maintenance, including 250′ wide Building 12.

The most fundamental question for any redevelopment strategy is how to create active and alluring place with such a large property to attract the number of employers and residents necessary to support new construction.  Build too little or slowly to mitigate risk and there wouldn’t be enough critical mass.  Build too much too quickly and it likely feels inauthentic and further amplifies the risk.  Forest City had just completed the first phase of a small but comparable development, the 5M Project, a 4-acre project in a then undesirable part of downtown.  The project overcame the challenge of its location by organically growing, beginning with small adaptive reuses for artists, makers and entrepreneurs along with a robust event program to stimulate broader interest and support the new tenants.  The prototype provided the dual benefit of testing-out ideas about how place can increase the creativity of its tenants, something Forest City ultimately used to attract larger tech tenants into the project.  And this would be the basis for its development strategy at Pier 70.

Forest City is creating a new model of community engagement through prototyping on site with small adaptive reuse and event programming, resulting in a more inclusive and organic process of redevelopment.

The first phase of Pier 70 began in 2015 with a series of open houses, concerts, TED-like workshops, art fairs, and other cultural events.  Each event builds a connection to the place and supports the local community of artists, increasing the districts sense of value to a broader and more diverse network of people.  They are also informing the urban and building design, demonstrating what works in the spaces, what program is successful, and where there are natural centers of gravity.  In short, Forest City has created a new, more earnest and productive mode of community engagement, where the use of a place informs design rather than over-simplified conversations over renderings on poster boards.  Earlier this year (2017), Forest City submitted its full development proposal which was approved unanimously by the city Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission.  The project will have 500,000 square feet of space for artists, light industrial, and retail; over 1,000,000 square feet of office; and more than 2,100 units of residential.  Construction is expected to begin in 2019.

FIX’s Role
FIX project managed the winning RFP submittal for Forest City, including helping to generate the Pier 70 development strategy. FIX continued to advise Forest City, assisting in developing the project’s subsequent first phase.

ClientForest City
LocationPier 70, San Francisco, CA
ProgramOffice, Arts, Cultural, Residential
RoleVisioning, strategic planning, feasibility, and project management through the RFP process
ImpactHousing: approx 645 units of affordable housing (30% of estimated 2,150 units).
Opportunity: affordable commercial space for small-medium businesses.