Investors want to put fish back into SF’s Fisherman’s Wharf

Plans for Pier 45 include a seafood processing center, fish market and food hall.

Boudin Bakery's Louis Giraudo, Save Mart Supermarkets' Chris McGarry, Mission Bay Development Group's Seth Hamalian and Fisherman’s Wharf (Getty, Linkedin, PARKLAB, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP)
Boudin Bakery's Louis Giraudo, Save Mart Supermarkets' Chris McGarry, Mission Bay Development Group's Seth Hamalian and Fisherman’s Wharf (Getty, Linkedin, PARKLAB, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP)

A trio of investors want to turn San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf into a real wharf for real fishermen.

Louis Giraudo, former scion of Boudin Bakery, has joined forces Chris McGarry, former CEO of Save Mart Supermarkets and Seth Hamalian, co-founder of Mission Bay Development Group, to propose the fishy redevelopment plan for Pier 45, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Their goal: to turn the neighborhood into a seafood-focused attraction highlighting its historic identity as a working port, with a food hall, seafood processing center and a fish market.

In addition to the food hall and a processing center where the public could watch workers prepare the catch of the day, it would include an events center, interactive museum and short-term apartment rentals, along with more public space.

Their plan was sent unsolicited last month to the Port of San Francisco. It comes as Fisherman’s Wharf tries to recover from restaurant closures and blows to the city’s tourist economy during the pandemic.

“Right now, Fisherman’s Wharf is in crisis, as San Francisco is in crisis,” Giraudo told the Chronicle. “We love San Francisco, and this is not about making a lot of money. It’s San Franciscans trying to revitalize a piece of San Francisco.”

He said he hoped it would take three-and-a-half years to complete, if given city approval.  “The old pros will tell you Giraudo is nuts, and it’s a 10-year project,” he said.

The preliminary application didn’t say how much the Pier 45 project would cost, but Giraudo said he and his partners had the capital to seed the potential project. Should the plan get the green light from port and city officials, he said they had commitments from local institutional investors.

The investor group, dubbed Fisherman’s Wharf Revitalized, envisions changes not just to Pier 45.

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It aims to redevelop land bounded by the stretch of Jefferson Street that runs along the wharf and intersects Taylor, Mason and Powell streets and which includes the Boudin Bakery — now owned and operated by Giraudo’s son.

It also envisions a new public plaza and pedestrian promenade, plus a combined winery, brewery and distillery in an area mostly used for parking.

A second phase would redevelop a triangular piece of land occupied by a merry-go-round and a parking lot bound by Jefferson and Taylor streets.

Fisherman’s Wharf was once home to the city’s commercial fishing fleet known for its annual Dungeness crab harvest. For more than a century, it became famous for fresh seafood, much of it caught, sold or cooked by Italian immigrants and their descendants.

But the wharf has declined since the pandemic. In May 2020, a large fire ripped through Shed C on Pier 45, where many crab fishers stored their gear.

And a number of longtime Italian seafood restaurants along the wharf have closed, some for good, as tourism ground to a halt in the dockside neighborhood.

“The neighborhood risks getting stuck in a downward spiral that will be very difficult and costly to reverse,” the plan states, highlighting the restaurant closures. “While tourists may have felt compelled to visit in the past, the city can no longer afford to take for granted that they will continue to come without new investment and attractions added in the immediate future.”

In December, Denver-based Blackridge Group proposed razing a two-story commercial building at 2629 Taylor Street in Fisherman’s Wharf and replacing it with a 136-room hotel.

— Dana Bartholomew

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