Fisherman’s Wharf to host first new hotel in years

Planning Commission expected to approve 136-key project

Blackridge's Steve McChesney and renderings of new Fishermans Wharf hotel (Stanton Architecture, Linkedin, Getty)
Blackridge's Steve McChesney and renderings of new Fishermans Wharf hotel (Stanton Architecture, Linkedin, Getty)

Fisherman’s Wharf hasn’t hosted a new ground-up hotel for “too long to remember,” according to Cecile Gregorie of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefit District.

That may change soon as a proposal to build a 136-key hotel on the corner of Taylor and North Point streets is likely to receive approval from the city’s Planning Commission Thursday and move forward to the full Board of Supervisors.

The project from Denver-based Blackridge Group includes demolition of the existing two-story commercial building at 2629 Taylor Street, and replacing it with a 40-foot-tall hotel with more than 70,000 square feet of rooms, as well as 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, according to a report on the project. The hotel, which was described in the Planning Commission packet as “upper mid-scale,” will have a gym, breakfast area, courtyard and roof deck. There will be no full-service restaurant or car parking in the Stanton Architecture-designed hotel, but there will be 16 bike parking spots and public art. Construction is expected to cost at least $23 million and the anticipated opening date is 2025.

The Planning Department has recommended that the Commission approve the proposed project, which would stand next door to a Holiday Inn Express. Perhaps even more critically in San Francisco, no communications against the project have been logged, according to the Planning report.

Blackridge Principal Steve McChesney did not return a request for comment.

McChesney was senior vice president of Stonebridge Companies when it built the 12-story Hyatt Place near Oracle Park. Completed in 2019, it sold earlier this year for $142 million, or $617,000 per room, the highest per key room price since the pandemic. McChesney’s second foray into San Francisco hotel development is the as-yet-unnamed Fisherman’s Wharf project, which has been moving through the planning process since July 2019.

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The fact that Blackridge is still pushing the project forward is a sign of faith in the hotel market making a comeback after a slowdown during the pandemic. According to the tourism group SF Travel, San Francisco is on track to receive 21.5 million visitors in 2022 compared to 2021’s 17 million visitors, an increase of more than 25 percent. The city is still down from its record high in 2019, however, when the city hosted 26.2 million visitors.

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are “iconic attractions” and both vacationers and business travelers stay at the hotels there, said SF Travel’s Lori Lincoln via email.

The area is on track to have 11 million unique visitors in 2022, said the CBD’s Gregorie, up from 5.1 million in 2020 and 9.5 million in 2021, but still below the 13.5 million visitors in 2019. It currently has 3,000 hotel rooms and the neighborhood improvement group would like to expand that, she said via email.

“We want people to stay longer in the Wharf and hotels allow us to do that,” she wrote.

Most ground-up hotels in the city have been built downtown and in SOMA in recent years. Fisherman’s Wharf hotel “openings” are almost always a major refurbishment of an existing hotel, such as the Holiday Inn on Beach Street that turned into two boutique hotels after it was purchased by Westbrook Partners in 2017 for $144 million. In 2019, the former Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf was purchased by Riu Hotels & Resorts for $270 million, and was rebranded as Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf.

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