Hoping to transform “an industrial wasteland” into the “next hot neighborhood of San Francisco,” there’s been a $2 billion redevelopment project underway for four years at the former Potrero Power Plant by Pier 70, with housing, hotels, hotels and office space.
Let us begin with the current, fugly conditions at the Potrero Power Plant, formerly one of PG&E’s dirtiest, most outdated, pollution-spewing monstrosities in the state of California. It was San Francisco’s last remaining fossil-fuel power plant until its closure in 2012, and has not been open to the public since.
As SFist previously reported in early 2020, the 29-acre site was set to be transformed into 2,600 residential units and 1.8 million square feet of new commercial space, though some of the plans have changed.
We have renderings of what it is slated to become, courtesy of architects Perkins & Will. The stack will stay as a centerpiece, and there are also plans for a boutique hotel, green space, and more. Per the designers, “The 300-foot-tall stack will remain as an icon on the waterfront and a reminder of the new neighborhood’s rich history. In a complete turnaround, the site will be transformed from a polluting power plant to a sustainable, resilient neighborhood that embraces wellness.”
“Wellness” aside, this does look like a cool and ambitious revitalization. “The perception of what’s out there has really changed from an industrial wasteland where no one wants to be to the next hot neighborhood of San Francisco,” Build SF founder Lou Vazquez says in a statement.
The Chronicle reported last year that developer Associate Capital was doubling the scope of many aspects to the project, another sign of developers betting big on a post-pandemic tourism and economic rebound. Per the Chron, “Instead of 315 housing units, the initial phase will have 735, including a free-standing affordable building with about 100 homes. Instead of $100 million in “horizontal” work — the utilities, streets, sidewalks and parks that provide the bones of a new neighborhood — [Associate Capital] is doing $300 million. Instead of three commercial buildings, it will have four. A 2.5-acre park will also now be part of the first phase as will the restoration of the historic brick Station A.”
And today, the San Francisco Business Times reports that infrastructure work is about to begin to bring power, water, plumbing and telecommunication into the coming “brand new, all-electric neighborhood.”
The units and storefront space numbers are still up in the air, and that’s sort of by design. Associate Capital principal Enrique Landa tells the Business Times that the development plans are "flexible enough where we'll be able to meet the market, whatever that market is — whether it's life science, or office, residential, for rent, or for sale."
The revitalization of this area around Pier 70 and Dogpatch is already underway. That RH (formerly Restoration Hardware) furniture showroom opening had everyone’s smokestacks standing at full attention, the recently announced and glamorous sounding Portola Music Festival could become an annual fixture, and an adjacent mega-development at Pier 70 is also in the works (though experiencing hiccups). Actual construction is unlikely to start for at least a year, but the Potrero Power Plant is definitely powering forward.
Images: Perkins Will