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San Francisco Giants Release California-Inspired Designs for Waterfront District Near Ballpark

Mission Rock Among Latest Additions to Nation’s Sports-Centric Developments

San Francisco Giants Waterfront

The 28-acre Mission Rock district includes residential, office and retail elements near the San Francisco Giants' ballpark. (Tishman Speyer)

Buildings inspired by California's geologic rock formations and elements such as a five-acre waterfront park are included in plans unveiled by developer Tishman Speyer and the San Francisco Giants baseball team for a new development.

They are the first official renderings released for Mission Rock, a planned major mixed-use project that's among the latest examples of professional sports teams trying to turn areas near stadiums into neighborhoods that can generate economic benefits throughout the year.

Expected to cost well over $1 billion to develop, plans include about 1,500 residential units, 250,000 square feet of retail and up to 1.4 million square feet of offices in two residential buildings, two commercial buildings and a retail corridor. Construction is expected to be completed in 2025. The project also is expected to include new public open spaces, waterfront access improvements and rehabilitation of the city’s historic Pier 48 near the Giants' stadium, Oracle Park.

Mission Rock is meant to become a centerpiece for the Central Southern Waterfront neighborhood and the developers put together a team of several architecture firms to create different but complementary buildings that create a master-planned destination that resembles a more organically developed area.

Rendering Mission Rock San Francisco

Architecture firm MVRDV led a team to design this building at Mission Rock in San Francisco. (Rendering courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

"Each building has its own distinct look and feel, but complements the other buildings, China Basin Park and the surrounding environment," said a statement from Tishman Speyer, discussing designs created by the project’s team of architects from prominent global firms Henning Larsen, MVRDV, Studio Gang and WORKac, working with several local design firms.

Many of the firms drew inspiration from the natural topography of San Francisco, which boasts steep hills and stretches of lush coastline, as well as the rest of the state, home to mountains, deserts, beaches and national parks.

"While Mission Rock will become an extension of the city’s existing urban grid, the site misses the topographical qualities and challenges that make some of San Francisco’s traditional neighborhoods so charming," reads a statement by MVRDV and Perry Architects about their design philosophy on the site. "What if we recreated a rocky hill within the parcel?"

The two firms said they were "inspired by Californian rock formations" when they designed an office and residential building that reaches as much as 23 stories in one portion of the project. The building has a "narrow valley running between steep rocky walls that extend all the way up the tower western façade," reads the statement.

WORKac led a team to design an eight-story office building that "conceived a series of horizontally-shifting layers that create a dynamic sense of topography, reflecting the building’s San Francisco home and ecologically-oriented ideas," according to a description from the firms.

A team led by architecture firm Henning Larsen said it looked to "the geologic rock formations of California’s Devil's Postpile in Yosemite National Park" when it designed a 13-story office building in the project.

According to the Port of San Francisco, which joined the city and county in awarding master development rights to the baseball team in 2010 and approved the project in 2015, Mission Rock is projected to generate more than $25 million annually in new city revenue and create 7,000 permanent jobs.

Henning Larsen vision San Francisco Mission Rock Development

A team led by architecture firm Henning Larsen envisioned this building in San Francisco's Mission Rock development. (Rendering courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

Major League Baseball’s Giants organization last fall chose the prominent nationwide developer for its project, in planning since 2010 and set to begin construction in 2020. It will essentially create a new 28-acre waterfront neighborhood near the stadium, known since January as Oracle Park.

WORKac creation of this building in Mission Rock

Design firm WORKac led the creation of this building in Mission Rock. (Rendering courtesy of Tishman Speyer)

It is among the largest in a recent nationwide string of mixed-use developments being spearheaded by professional sports teams and their host cities, to boost entertainment and social offerings on a year-round basis while generating new commercial activity in places where it previously never existed, especially in older urban areas.

Just across San Francisco Bay, that includes plans by baseball’s Oakland A’s for a new stadium and surrounding downtown waterfront district, though that project could be held up by an ongoing legal dispute between the city and Alameda County over the sale of the A’s current venue.

The National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams have a major mixed-use stadium development under construction in Inglewood, and California cities including Anaheim and San Diego are in talks to develop similar stadium-adjacent projects involving pro sports teams.

Sports Business Journal recently estimated that more than $12.2 billion in sports construction and renovations have anchored new entertainment development over the past 20 years.

"The sports and entertainment industry is changing rapidly, and the traditional revenue model has evolved and expanded," said Craig Cassell, executive managing director with Cushman & Wakefield, in a March statement marking the commercial brokerage’s creation of a new sports and entertainment advisory group, to compete with similar units at rivals including CBRE Group and JLL.

Port of San Francisco officials said 40% of residential units at Mission Rock will be classified as affordable to low and middle-income families, in a region known to have among the highest costs of living in the nation.

The public policy research firm SPUR reported that housing affordability was the "No. 1 issue in every poll" preceding passage of a 2015 city ballot issue that cleared the way for Mission Rock by raising allowable building heights to between 190 and 240 feet. The height increase was deemed necessary to provide appropriate density for affordable residential units in that district.

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