wave.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and others broke ground today on a new cruise ship terminal being built as part of the America’s Cup project.

The Board of Supervisors last week upheld the environmental review of the plans to transform the city’s waterfront in preparation for the prestigious international sailing race in 2013 and related competitions this August.

The board’s approval allowed construction to begin on the James H. Herman Cruise Terminal. The facility will serve as the headquarters for the 2013 race, then will become a terminal for cruise ships starting the following year, according to organizers.

Lee said today’s groundbreaking marked an important milestone in the preparations for the America’s Cup.

“We’re no longer talking about the promises that have been made, we’re actually into implementing them,” he said.

The mayor said that when people arrive at the new terminal, located at the intersection of The Embarcadero and Lombard and Battery streets, “you’re going to see a lot of happy faces.”

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said the various city departments, event organizers and private investors working on the project “are coming together the way a great crew does on a ship.”

“We still have some work to do,” Chiu said. Among other steps, the board still has to finalize the development agreement for the America’s Cup project.

Lee said after today’s news conference that he expects long-term development rights along the city’s waterfront to be a major point of concern for supervisors as they consider the agreement with the America’s Cup organizers.

San Francisco was named the host city for the race after Oracle CEO Larry Ellison won the previous America’s Cup in 2010 and got to choose the location of the next contest.

Then-Mayor Gavin Newsom negotiated an agreement with Ellison and other race organizers that included the building of the cruise terminal and other improvements to the city’s waterfront in exchange for various development rights.

“There’s going to be so much benefit out of this,” Lee said today. “We’re so lucky to have landed this, and we’re not going to squander this opportunity.”

America’s Cup World Series races are expected to start this August, followed by the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup Challenger Series in July 2013 and the America’s Cup Finals in September 2013.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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