San Francisco has been the beneficiary—some might say victim– of an impressive construction boom during the past 18 months. Cranes can be seen going to work in several neighborhoods around the city, both in the heart of the downtown or along the aquatic edges that border the bay. The changes San Francisco can expect to see along its waterfront signify not only growth, but also a transition from a historically industrial city to the thriving heart of a global metropolis.
Pier 70, for example, was used as a shipyard for several generations up until World War II, after which the industry went into decline. Now, after almost 50 years of minimal activity, that area is planned for a revival with the development of the new Pier 70 project, which will be in progress during the course of the next 15 years with the end goal being a massive mixed-use site with housing, commercial and retail space, office and open space.
Controversy is usually hot on the heels of any discussion of waterfront development, with change-averse residents worried about new buildings cutting off treasured views of the bay. Meanwhile, supporters will say it is opening up the waterfront by encouraging activity.
To be sure, the city will face challenges with this kind of development, including finding ways to create public access and planning for sea level rise. Creative engineering and urban planning will allow for feasible solutions to both these problems. If the city is to support its growing population, officials and residents must allow for new housing development in all parts of the city.
San Francisco’s waterfront has seen some change already, including more housing projects and the AT&T ballpark. But there are too many areas that have sat idle or been occupied by a parking lot, neither of which encourage community activity.
Is your city located on a waterfront? If so, what innovative solutions are being dreamed up to utilize this space?
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