Once the birthplace of hulking World War II ships and endless miles of steel tubes used for BART infrastructure, modern-day Pier 70—with its ghostly tumbledown warehouses, buckling ship slips, and fields of wild fennel—is a forsaken landscape on the brink of a metamorphosis. Legislation to transform a 28-acre section of Pier 70 into a mixed-use waterfront for housing, artist studios, retail shops, and new parks is on the November ballot. If approved, the measure will increase the pier’s height limit from 40 feet to 90 feet, a tactic to preserve the tallest existing historic structure on-site, and to green-light an environmental review to satisfy California’s strict requirements. The blueprints for the new Pier 70 are impressively crowdsourced: The developer, Forest City Enterprises, has powwowed with more than 10,000 enthusiastic residents through on-site focus groups and such lively neighborhood events as open markets and movie nights. “This project is truly community driven,” says Alexa Arena, senior vice president at Forest City. “For the first time in a long time, a development project is actually noncontroversial.”
This article was published in 7x7's October 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.