Â Â Photo: Brant Ward, The Chronicle
When the Urban Air Market opens at Pier 70 for a one-day pop-up event Sunday, it will be a neighborhood party with a purpose for developers of the $242 million mixed-use project planned for theÂ site.
For Forest City Development, it's a chance to see if the vision of the waterfront location as a future community center for the Dogpatch area is striking a chord and whether events at the old shipbuilding complex can draw aÂ crowd.
"We want to know how we design something that people in the vicinity will want to go to," said Alexa Arena, a senior vice president for Forest City. "It's good for the design of the project to see how the siteÂ works."
Forest City's project is part of an ambitious plan to transform an aging relic of the city's maritime past into a new San Francisco destination that will draw people of all ages to theÂ waterfront.
Sunday's event, for example, will be centered on the pier's Building 12 plate shop, a huge 1941 facility designed for the manufacture of the heavy metal hull plates for the ships built at theÂ yard.
The 60,000-square-foot ground floor, with its 40-foot ceiling, has never been the site of a public event. In recent years, it has housed San Francisco's auto impound and tow lot, which means, said Jack Sylvan, the Forest City executive most involved with the Pier 70 project, "there's plenty of parkingÂ available."
Current plans for the 28-acre site call for about 1,000 apartments and more than 2 million square feet of office space, along with room for shops, restaurants, light manufacturing and creative uses. An 8-acre shoreline park will include the slips where the warships built at Pier 70 once wereÂ launched.
But both the city and the Port of San Francisco, which owns the land, want more than a cookie-cutter development dropped alongside the bay, with no reference to the area's history or surroundingÂ neighborhood.
There's a need, both financial and cultural, to make the planned development at the pier part of the larger community, ArenaÂ said.
"People want great social spaces," she added. "That's why they live in the city, that's why they work in theÂ city."
That's one reason Forest City has worked closely with the Dogpatch community, even sending Wendy Macnaughton, a San Francisco artist and illustrator, into the neighborhood to sketch the people and the places for a graphic rendition of Dogpatch that accompanies many of the developer'sÂ presentations.
There's plenty of local interest. A series of tours of the proposed development area, which has been fenced off for years, filled up quickly earlier this year and similar walks will be offeredÂ Sunday.
"Instead of just seeing a presentation, people can walk around the site," Sylvan said. "It becomes something people can envision, something that becomes moreÂ real."
There's plenty to look ahead to at Pier 70, which after decades of quiet disrepair has emerged as the focus of a number of long-range development plans. The entire 65-acre pier, which extends along Illinois Street from Mariposa Street to 22nd Street, will become a center for commerce andÂ activity.
The port and the city already have approved a $100 million project to restore the central pier's aging brick buildings, with Orton Development looking to transform the battered maritime facilities, some dating back to the late 1800s, into space for artists, shop keepers, office workers and manufacturingÂ companies.
The city also plans to convert Crane Cove, with its two graffiti-covered cargo cranes, into an 8-acre park in a part of the city where public open space is at aÂ premium.
"The excitement of developing Pier 70 is bringing it back to life and filling the historic complex with people and activities," said Monique Moyer, the port's executiveÂ director.
Sunday's event will feature Urban Air Market, which has up to 120 local vendors of fashion, accessories and home goods and has two showings a year in Hayes Valley. There will also be food trucks, a beer and wine garden and a variety of interactive demonstrations and projects for kids. The Noonan Artists, who have had studios at Pier 70 for more than 30 years, will also be exhibiting theirÂ work.
Both the port and the developer hope that the pop-up marketplace will be the first of many events at Pier 70, keeping interest high even before constructionÂ begins.
Sunday's event and the ones that may follow aren't entirely the result of the developer's altruism, Sylvan admitted. Since it will be at least two years before the environmental impact report on the Forest City development is completed and longer than that before work can start on what's expected to be a 15- to 20-year project, a continuing buzz about the site isÂ important.
"If we built the buildings tomorrow, it would take time to convince people that Pier 70 is a place to go," he said. "This reduces our pioneerÂ time."
The one-day pop-up marketplace for sustainable design will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Entrance to the event, which will take place inside and around Building 12, will be at 22nd and Illinois streets. The pier can be reached by the Muni T-line and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will provide free bike valet parking.