Tom Butt
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  The Mysterious Future of the Craneway
March 3, 2024

For some nine months, the future of the Craneway has been the subject of intense interest and passionate opinions by the Richmond public, and rightly so because it is owned by the City of Richmond and the subject of a public trust easement that limits its uses. 

The area pickleball players can’t wait to start playing in the Craneway, while perhaps the majority of Richmond residents yearn for the Craneway to continue hosting popular public events such as trade shows, beer, wine and food festivals, non-profit fundraisers, crafts fairs, the iconic 3rd of July fireworks and symphony, skating (including roller derby), Rosie the Riveter events, quilt shows, concerts, and music and entertainment, festivals (see

What will the future hold?
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From The Craneway Pavilion: "Unfortunately, beginning Dec 23rd, 2023, the Craneway Pavilion will no longer be available as an event venue. We will be opening a new venue in Oakland - Henry J Kaiser Center for Arts and Ideas For more information, please get in touch with Thank you for all your support over years!"

Unfortunately, almost no public information has been or is available. Despite multiple public inquires to the mayor and City Council members, none has responded. In “Pickleball debate continues as work commences at the Craneway Pavilion,” the following appeared:

According to Mayor Eduardo Martinez’s chief of staff, Shiva Mishek, the city still has yet to receive paperwork from the PB Development Group outlining its new plan. However, the group has posted online about its intent to open pickleball courts at Richmond’s historic Craneway Pavilion, possibly as soon as next month. “Last I spoke to the City Attorney’s Office (last week), nothing submitted yet— just a vague comment from Orton that he may apply for the restaurant use permit, which is allowed under our municipal code and would make it 70 percent restaurant and 30 percent pickleball,” Mishek said…

For now, Richmond residents are waiting to see what will become of their beloved Craneway Pavilion, and city officials are waiting along with them. Mishek said the city would confer with the State Lands Commission once they received a completed application from PB Pickleball.
“The City Attorney’s Office is drafting another letter to the State Lands Commission, to be sent when we actually get an application,” Mishek said.

Here is what we know:

The website for Pickleball Development Group, Inc. states:

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Set to open doors February 2024, the reimagined Craneway Pavilion will feature 13 regulation sized indoor pickleball courts, a health and fitness lounge, and pro shop to go along with the restaurant and bar. PBC Craneway offers challenge court play, lessons, clinics, organized leagues and ladders for players of all skill levels. Located directly on the San Francisco Bay, the Craneway Pavilion has a one-of-a-kind view overlooking the water. ​Prime for events of all sizes, and led by world-class professional pickleballers, the Craneway Pavilion will stand out as a pickleball gem in Northern California

So, what is going on? No one really knows. Pickleball Development Group, Inc. (actually PB Development Group, Incorporated)  is listed with the California Secretary of State but is delinquent in filing its 2023 Statement of Information, which was due October 31, 2023.. Based on its 2022 Statement of Information, PB Development Group Incorporated is located at 412 Olive Avenue, Suite 197, Huntington Beach CA 92648. The Registered Corporate Agent is Sandra Menjivar, 101 Brand Boulevard, 11th Floor, Glendale CA. The mailing address is 208 E. Balboa Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA 92661. The listed officers include Chief Financial Officer Christopher J. Hagmaier, 208 E. Balboa Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA 92661, Director Cooper D. Hagmaier, 219 E. Bay Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92661 and Chief Executive Officer Rachael L. Hong, 208 E. Balboa Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA 92661.

Both Christopher J. Hagmaier and Rachael Lynne Hong are shown living at 208 E. Balboa Boulevard in Newport Beach, in a home valued at just under $4 million. If you want to contact Rachael, her phone is 925-457-6299. She previously lived in Lafayette.

The corporation’s address, 412 Olive Avenue in Huntington Beach, is not a real office. It is a UPS mail drop.

Figure 1 - "Office" of PB Development Group, Incorporated

According to, Chief Executive Officer Rachael Hong is the founder of the Womens International Pickleball Association (WIPA):

Figure 2 - Bio for Rachael Hong

On July 14, 2023, PB Development Group, DBA Assemble Kitchen, obtained Richmond Business License #40064711 for 1414 Harbour Way South, Suite 4000. The license expired on December 31, 2023. Craneway Pickleball Pavilion also obtained Business License #40064816 on July 6, 2023, but according to etrakit, the status is “Pending Tax Payment.” Assemble Kitchen is licensed by Contra Costa Health Services Environmental Health Division and was last inspected on December 22, 2023, with seven minor violations and one major violation.





Routine Inspection

Minor violation - Toxic substances properly identified, stored and used
 (more details)

Minor violation - Wiping cloths; properly used and stored
 (more details)

Minor violation - Adequate ventilation and lighting; designated areas, use
 (more details)

Minor violation - Proper hot and cold holding temperatures
 (more details)

Minor violation - Plumbing; fixtures, back flow devices, drainage
 (more details)

Minor violation - Adequate hand washing facilities: supplied and accessible
 (more details)

MAJOR violation - Proper cooling methods
 (more details)

Minor violation - Food safety certification and food handler cards: valid, available for review
 (more details)


The liquor license for Assemble Restaurant is #517773, held not by Rachael Hong or Assemble Kitchen, but by Orton Entertainment, LLC, with Orton Development Inc. listed as the manager. It expires April 30, 2024.

Another promoter of the Craneway pickleball venue is Darlene Vendegna, who posts about progress on the Craneway venue on the East Bay Pickleball Association Facebook page. On January 28, 2024, she wrote:

Read the quote from the owner. That is the only information that is based fact. Most of the article is misinformation. The project would NOT be going through if the owners had not gone through everyone that had to go through.
The facility IS opening next month. In the meantime go to Assemble and see how great the food is. I recommend the patty melt and the chicken pot pie.

Here are the pertinent facts, in spite of whatever controversy provoking articles and postings may be appearing. Craneway Pavillion IS happening. The person who opening this facility is Rachel Hong. She is quoted on that most recent article and those are the facts. They would not be going through with this project if all the hoops that NEEDED to be jumped through had not been. Remember, news outlets want eyeballs and nothing brings more eyeballs than the word CONTROVERSY. One of the commenters on that article posted the most articulate and well thought out response yet. I don’t know who they are but if I find out, I will shake their hand. If you subscribe to that paper, please post your comments there…

Here’s a little Craneway tease. This will be the snack bar, cocktail and coffee bar. The floors we play on will NOT be the concrete as some unfounded rumors have suggested. They will be Acrytech with Cushion . Four courts with wide margins as four different levels for challenge courts and nine courts for leagues, clinics, private lessons and special events. Pool and ping pong (thanks Joola), and proshop, plenty of seating for snacking or dining or cocktails while you wait or just wanna visit. Hoping for courts to be ready my mid Feb

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The Craneway was leased to Ford Point, LLC (an offshoot of Orton Development – later transferred to Orton Entertainment LLC) in 2004, because it could not, like the remainder of the Ford Building, be sold because it is under a Public Trust easement.. Orton sold the Ford Building in 2023 but is still the leaseholder of the Craneway. As the leaseholder, Orton must receive the City’s consent before subleasing the Craneway. That consent has not been given, but the presumed sublessee, PB Development, Incorporated, is undeterred in their plan to turn the Craneway into a Pickleball venue. PB Development, Incorporated, has taken out a business license, announced the opening of the venue in February 2024, and has begun installing a sports floor in the entire Craneway.

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Figure 3 - Sports floor being installed on February 28, 2024

Figure 4 - Acrytech Sports Surfaces

Although the City must approve a sublessee, no application or other detailed information has been made public, leading to rampant rumors and speculation.

Apparently, PB Development, Incorporated, made a previous application to the City but later withdrew it. Although the application has not been made public, a portion of a letter from the City has been released. The letter followed consultation with the State Lands Commission.

The 2004 Settlement Agreement with the State Lands Commission stated, “A public trust easement for commerce, navigation and fisheries shall be established in the Craneway Parcel, and shall be exercised by the State for purposes of overnight accommodation, restaurants and cafes, water-related industry, museums regarding waterfront history, visitor-serving retail, boating and ferry service.”

Also, “The Public Trust Parcels, the public trust easement in the Craneway Parcel, and the public access easements within the Harbour Way Public Access Parcel, Shoreline Public Access Easement Area I and Shoreline Public Access Easement Area II will serve public trust needs for public access, parks, visitor service, and a possible ferry landing.”

The State Lands Commission has delegated the actual regulation of the Craneway Public Trust easement to the City of Richmond.

It is my understanding that the current Craneway proposed use has evolved to include a venue that includes a restaurant and bar, 13 regulation sized indoor pickleball courts, a health and fitness lounge, and pro shop to go along with the restaurant and bar Other than the proposed restaurant, the proposed uses, particularly the games, do not appear to fit into the public trust categories defined by the State Lands Commission, and as the Commission has previously noted, games are not “visitor serving retail,” and are not “water dependent.”

The matrix below shows my take on how the proposed uses comport with the public trust easement.

Proposed Uses

Allowable Uses Permitted by Public Trust Easement


Overnight Accommodation

Restaurants and Cafes

Water-Related Industry

Museums Regarding Waterfront History

Visitor-Serving Retail


Ferry Service

















Health and Fitness Lounge








Pro Shop








I have been told that the proposed Craneway use will be similar to Plank Oakland (, whose website describes it as “plank – beer garden, bowling, bocce” with “50,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor dining space,” and “restaurant, sports bar & beer garden.”

Plank Oakland has some 34,000 square feet indoors, slightly smaller than the 40,000 square foot Craneway. It is, however, not highly rated. Yelp gives it a miserable rating of 2.5, substantially lower than any venue on or near the Richmond waterfront. Assemble Kitchen, which is managed by the same people proposing the Craneway transformation, currently has the lowest rating of any venue on or near the Richmond waterfront.

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Yelp Rating

East Brother Light Station


East Brother Beer


The Backyard


Biancoverde (Hotel mac)


Bubbaloo Cafe


Golden Gate Bistro


Riggers Loft


Lara’s Fine Dining


Baltic Kiss




Anh Restaurant and Bar


Up and Under


Assemble Kitchen


Plank Oakland


Figure 1 - Plank Oakland Bowling

Figure 2 - Plank Oakland Restaurant

Figure 3 - Plank Oakland games
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Figure 4 - Plank Oaklandgames

The existing Ground Lease or the Craneway may be obsolete because it was drafted with the understanding that the Craneway leasehold interest and the remainder of the Ford Assembly Building would be owned by the same entity, which is no longer the case. See C, below:

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The rent of $1.00 per year was also set with the assumption that the Craneway leaseholder would own the remainder of the site:

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If the proposed use of the Craneway looks anything like Plank Oakland, there will be substantial capital tenant improvements. It appears that the construction of these improvements must be accomplished with prevailing wages. Who will enforce this and how?

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I contacted the State lands Commission to find out if Plank Oakland was subject to a public trust easement, and if so, how games were allowed there when the Commission described games as unacceptable for the Craneway. A spokeperson responsed:

Both Plank and the Craneway have similar restrictions in terms of the Public Trust. I don’t believe there is much difference. I have some knowledge of the new proposal, and I do however believe there are some differences between Plank and the redesign that is being proposed. State Lands hasn’t been directly involved with the new proposal, but I expect the City will bring us into the loop soon. I’ve had a couple of informal conversations with the City.

The spokesperson provided me a letter ( from 2014 explaining how and why games were allowed at Plank Oakland.

I noted that while there are some similarities between Jack London Pavilion I (Plank) and the Craneway, there are more significant differences:

  • Unlike Pavilion I the Craneway has been consistently rented since the time it was rehabilitated. It was never leased long term to a single tenant (unless you can count the two years it served as COVID backup emergency medical facility), but it was rented for a series of widely diverse events, many of which were open to the public. The going rate, I always understood, was $10,000 a day.
  • The Craneway, at 40,000 SF is actually larger than pavilion I at 34,000 SF.
  • We don’t know, since we have never seen a plan, but the prospect of over 50% of the craneway being an actual restaurant appears to be a remote possibility. There is already a restaurant adjacent to the Craneway (Assemble Kitchen) that doesn’t appear to be doing well enough to be desperate for an expansion. Since they are in the process of covering 100% of the Craneway with Acrytech Sport Surface, it doesn’t appear that a restaurant is a high priority.
  • The Craneway has a small amount of outdoor space that can be and has been used for outdoor dedicated dining and drinking, but nothing compared to that at Pavilion I.
  • There is no interpretive exhibit at the Craneway.
  • Unlike Pavilion I, there is no legislation that allows “other public uses and purposes” at the Craneway.
  • Unlike Pavilion I, the Craneway does not have a history of being vacant or underutilized. In fact, the company most recently managing the Craneway has confirmed that the rental program has been very economically successful. The rentals have been predominantly uses that attract and benefit regional and statewide uses.
  • It is not clear that the currently proposed use of the Craneway will be a restaurant and a bar with other uses as ancillary. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true.

Even though the history in recent years of the types of rentals for the Craneway may have not always fit neatly into the categories allowed by the settlement agreement, they were almost universally embraced by and appreciated by the public. Many events benefitted from the waterfront context, and the visitors and patrons were regional and statewide. The prospective sports and game facility being proposed for the Craneway has already generated significant community dissent.

I am hoping that before consenting to the proposed predominantly pickleball venue, the City of Richmond will provide transparency so that the community can see what is proposed and make sure it is properly regulated. Any new tenant improvements must be code conforming and must comply with “any applicable restrictions and requirements of the State of California State Historic Preservation Office.” How will this be regulated?

Although the specific subleases are deemed confidential, there is no restriction on how much of the proposed subtenant’s plans can be shared with the public. The use application is a public document and should be shared with the public as soon  as it is received.  The following should be disclosed:

  • A detailed narrative description of the intended use and precisely how it comports with the Public Trust restrictions in the master lease.
  • A floor plan of the Craneway showing exactly how the proposed uses will be laid out, and which ones are permanent and which ones are sufficiently flexible that they can accommodate other short term uses. Some additional graphics, such as sketches of intended uses would be helpful. If there are any permanent improvements, they should be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission, and they may require a building permit.
  • A projection of the number of people utilizing the Craneway on typical weekdays, weekday evenings, weekends and weekend evenings, what the projected parking ratio will be per person and what parking they will utilize.
  • Indications of how the subtenant will conform to the City’s codes, including RMC 2.50 and 2.56, and how it can be monitored.
  • What capital improvements are contemplated and how the requirement for prevailing wages will be satisfied and audited.
  • Some capital improvements, such as expansion of the existing restaurant, require CCC Health Department approval as well as City of Richmond approval.
  • How will the proposed uses be categorized for Richmond business tax purposes?

With the exception of the actual sublease document, all of the information listed above should be shared with the public. After all, the Public Trust is public business, and the public has a right to know.