S.F. Port launches search for developers for historic Central Waterfront buildings

Building 49 and the Kneass Building flank Crane Cove Park on the Central Waterfront.

The Port of San Francisco has officially launched a bid to solicit developers for the rehabilitation of two historic buildings that frame the Central Waterfront’s, Crane Cove Park. 

The buildings, known as Building 49 and the Kneass Building, are remnants of the city’s shipbuilding legacy. They are 8,000 and 13,500 square feet, respectively.

The request for proposals issued Thursday seeks bidders to develop and operate either one or both of the buildings. The goal is to provide “public-serving recreational, community and food service amenities that enhance use and public enjoyment” of the 7-acre park, per the RFP. 

The deadline for submissions is June 9.

The selected developer or developers will be required to secure entitlements, pay rent to the Port, operate and maintain the buildings and adjacent public areas, and make substantial improvements to the buildings — one of which is described to be in “poor” condition and has been red-tagged by the Port.

That building, the long-vacant Kneass Building at 671 Illinois St., is historically significant but deteriorating. It features an unpermitted second story that will be subject to rebuilding restrictions due to historic protection guidelines, according to the Port.

The wood-framed building, constructed with corrugated metal and wood siding, is one of several buildings associated with the Twigg and Kneass family boatworks. It was used for “small watercraft construction, repair and chandlery,” per the RFP.

Though not located in the area’s Union Ironworks Historic District, the Kneass Building has been identified by the Planning Department and the Dogpatch community as a historic resource and could be nominated for historic status, making it eligible for historic tax credits to help fund the rehabilitation costs.

Building 49, a steel-frame structure built in 1940 by an unknown architect, was “likely designed and built by government personnel” as part of the World War II-era development, according to the RFP. The structure, listed as part of the Union Ironworks Historic District, once functioned as a galvanizing plant for metal ship components to reduce corrosion.

The Port recently awarded a contract to deliver core and shell improvements to Building 49. The contract does not include a structural retrofit, which would be needed to receive occupancy permits for more than 100 people. Completion of the renovation work is expected at the end of this year.  

The Port envisions Building 49 to serve such uses as “human power boating storage or and rental business and/or a small cafe.” It hopes to select a tenant as soon as possible so the building will be open within six months of the Port completing the impending renovations. 

The Central Waterfront has seen great growth and development over the past two decades as underutilized properties have been redeveloped into new mixed-use neighborhoods. Projecgts include the 69-acre Pier 70, where Brookfield Properties is developing 28 acres into new housing and commercial uses. 

That project and the development of parcels spanning 7 acres along Illinois Street by TMG Presidio Bay and others are slated to provide 1,645 to 3,025 new residential units, 30% of which will be affordable to low- and middle-income households. The Waterfront site will also include 972,000 to 1.4 million square feet of commercial space, 9 acres of new parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities, the rehabilitation of three historic buildings, and sea-level rise projections.

Source: https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2021/04/15/port-rfp-central-waterfront.html