Tom Butt
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  Relocation of Red Oak Victory Ship
June 29, 2015

As a result of leasing the Riggers Loft to a winery (Riggers Loft Wine Company), the Red Oak Victory ship needs to be relocated to create a San Francisco Bay view, as the winery intends to engage in frequent outdoor events and wants to capitalize on the view.

The most favorable place to relocate the Red Oak Victory (ROV) is in Basin 5, adjacent to both the Riggers Loft and the Whirley Crane. This creates a symbiosis among visitor destinations and a critical mass of historic artifacts in the Rose the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

Tomorrow night in executive session, the Richmond City Council will decide whether to relocate the Red Oak Victory to Basin 5, or further away to Basin 1.

Basin 5 is currently rented to Foss Maritime, but their lease terminates in October 2015, so the City has the discretion to move them out of Basin 5 and into Basin 1. Foss would rather stay in Basin 5, but they can have the same amount of space in Basin 1, and they will be closer to their other pier use at Finger Piers 5 and 6.

The Riggers Loft Wine company is also concerned that moving the Red Oak Victory to Basin 5 will delay the move and not clear of the bay view in time for their planned opening in late July.

The port director estimates moving the Red Oak to Basin 5 instead of Basin 1 will cost an additional $200,000 to $300,000. However, this is more than just an economic decision about the least expensive option.

Foss’ lease on Basin 5 is up in October 2015, and they could be moved to Basin 1 but would require some new utilities, which is the main component of the additional cost. But Basin 1 will require new utilities at some point anyway, so this is really an investment for the Port, not a frivolous expense

Close to 70,000 people visit Richmond annually to see the Red Oak Victory and/or the Rosie the Riveter WWIII Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center. They don’t just pass through. The spend money at local businesses, ride the Bay Trail and typically form new positive perceptions about the City of Richmond. Red Oak Visitors, which are increasing by the thousands each year, make up a natural customer base for the winery.

The City has already invested heavily in making our national park a visitor destination for cultural tourism. We have invested millions in the Ford Plant/Craneway rehabilitation, the Maritime Center rehabilitation and connecting infrastructure. We continue to provide free berthing for the Red Oak Victory. The return on these investments is hard to quantify in dollars, but they have changed the image of Richmond forever. Think about this when you are at the Craneway on July 3.

When this most recent move began to be discussed, the apprehensive Red Oak people took the first thing they were offered, a move to Berth 1, sweetened with an offer by Foss for free towing. With no one really complaining about the plan, it sort of moved along without a thorough evaluation. I realized the when the first superintendent of Rosie the Riveter, Judy Hart, was visiting Richmond a few weeks ago and asked me, “What were you thinking?”

It turned out that nobody was thinking, we were all just letting events guide us through a poorly conceived long term plan.

Ultimately, placing the Red Oak in Berth 1 is not a good long term plan for the City, for the National Park Service, for the Red Oak Victory or for the Riggers Loft Winery. Grouping the Whirley Crane, the Red Oak Victory and the Riggers Loft (and eventually the General Warehouse) together as a cluster will enhance the historical value for National Park visitors and significantly increase the visitation of both the Red Oak Victory and the Winery.

There is not enough parking at Basin 1 to accommodate the hundreds of people that often attend events at the Red Oak Victory, but there is plenty for everyone at Basin 5. A bonus to the winery will be the removal of the vast array of temporary Foss sheds and equipment at Basin 5 that certainly doesn’t enhance the winery visitation experience.

The National Park Service and others are optimistic about finding funding and/or services to move the Red Oak Victory. I spent an hour last week talking to National park Service Director Jon Jarvis at the U.S. Mayor’s Conference, and he is optimistic and already working on it. The City is also working with Holland and Knight about potential grant funding to help pay for the recent PCB cleanup from old transformers at the basins.

Keeping the ROV, the Whirley Crane and the Riggers Loft together is the best long term plan for the City, the Museum and the NPS, and I hope the City Council will support it.

Relocation of the Red Oak Victory to Basin 5 is consistent with Goals NP1.4, NP1.D, NP1.E and Action NP1.H of the Richmond General Plan 2030.It is also consistent with Goal HR1.2, Action HR1.E and Policy HR2.1 of the General Plan.

If you support moving the Red Oak Victory to Basin 5, let your City Council members know. You can email them at:;;;;;

Red Oak VictoryBasin 1Riggers LoftWhirley CraneBasin 5Red Oak