SF Rents Becoming Too High Even for a Big Business Group
January 8, 2020
One of the Bay Area’s biggest business-boosting organizations is looking to relocate from its downtown headquarters onto a converted ferryboat due to extremely high rents, as reported recently in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Bay Area Council is a business, public policy and advocacy organization whose 300 members include the area’s biggest employers such as Kaiser Permanente, Wells Fargo, Facebook, Google, and the University of California.
But even still, the council couldn’t avoid the rising cost of doing business in the city.
“Our lease is set to end, and you know the story of San Francisco rents,” Wunderman said.
He would not say how much the 75-year-old organization was paying for the Sacramento Street offices — only that the new lease would have doubled the rent.
“So we started looking at various alternatives, and somehow this came up,” Wunderman said.
The council plans to move onto the 95-year-old Klamath, a refurbished bay ferry docked at the Port of Stockton, where it is the corporate headquarters for Duraflame Inc.
The idea is to have the Klamath towed from Stockton to San Francisco in August, moor it near the Financial District and be ready for the council to occupy it by the end of this year.
“It should make for a nice new headquarters, and it makes financial sense,” Wunderman said.
Wunderman said that on top of serving as headquarters for the council’s 35-member staff, the Klamath will also have a large rooftop deck that could be used as public open space.
“It has 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of usable space, but we will have to spend some money to modernize it,” Wunderman said.
The council currently leases 10,000 square feet.
What the ferry will not have is parking, but then again the council has no parking currently.
The move will mean a return to the bay for the Klamath.
In 1964, Walter Landor and his design and branding company, Landor Associates, bought the Klamath after finding it abandoned at the Oakland Estuary. After renovating the ferry, it served as Landor’s headquarters at Pier 5 for some time.
Now, the ferry, which once had room for 1,000 passengers and parking for 78 cars, will be docked at Pier Nine, right next to the offices of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, the agency that regulates public ferry service on San Francisco Bay.
Coincidentally, Wunderman has served on the WETA board of directors since 2015 and was just named chairman by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Rent negotiations are just beginning with the Port of San Francisco.
“It’s still early days. They still need approval from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and other agencies, but it is interesting,” said port spokesman Randy Quezada.
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