The Golden Gate Flyer 

THE MOST SPECTACULAR OBSERVATION WHEEL IN THE WORLD
"Helping to build affordable housing"

The Golden Gate Foundation

Our Vision:

Solving Affordable Housing


Mission Statement:

  • To raise money to help support the construction of affordable, below market rate, and low income housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. (The San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland Combined Statistical Area)
  • To raise money to support research into ways to build affordable housing for less cost.
  • To establish for profit corporations that support the Vision and Mission of The Golden Gate Foundation.
  • Manage and disperse funds raised by our associated for profit corporations towards fulfillment of our Vision and Mission.


The primary means of achieving this Mission:

Develop revenue generating companies and projects and dedicating a portion of such revenue to the construction of affordable housing and towards research into how to build such housing more efficiently and for less cost.


1. The Golden Gate Foundation is a federally approved 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The Foundation advocates for and provides funding towards efforts promoting legislation and land use or zoning amendments that may be needed to obtain necessary approvals and permits to build the projects.


2. Each ‘Project’ will be organized as a for profit corporation. The Golden Gate Foundation will manage all revenue generated by each for profit corporation earmarked for use in furthering the mission of the Foundation. The first for profit corporation being organized by The Foundation is The Golden Gate Flyer Corporation. It is estimated that as a result of it's operation as much as $100,000,000 of additional affordable housing will be made possible every year. 


3. The Foundation cannot, by law, contribute to individual political campaigns. It will remain ‘apolitical’ and not contribute to PACs or make political contributions.  It will, however, fund lobbying efforts to help effect meaningful tax policies at the local, state, and federal level, that would result in the creation of more affordable housing and encourage development of ways to build it faster and for less money.


4. Its day to day operations will be managed by a salaried Executive Director and minimal staff as required to carry out its Mission. Make up of Foundation staff shall reflect the diversity of the SF Bay area.


Overall Foundation management and guidance, including selecting and hiring the Executive Director, shall be the responsibility of the Board of Directors.

The Founding Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gordon P. Crespo, will be responsible for assembling a Board of Directors that represents the diversity of the San Francisco City Bay Area.


Mr. Crespo will select, on the foundations behalf, an interim Executive Director responsible for running the day to day operations, fundraising, and branding/sponsorship solicitations for the Foundation. This interim director shall serve until the Board has been fully established and construction of the wheel has been completed. At that time it will negotiate a long term contract for the Executive Director position.


Board of Directors

The board of directors shall consist of the Chairman and 12 additional directors. The board of directors shall, within 90 days of its formation, establish a 21 seat Advisory Board to assist it in executing the Vision and Mission of The Foundation.


We need input from city and community leaders, affordable housing advocates, potential sponsors, builders/developers, environmentalists, community activists, journalists, interested citizens, and elected representatives to create a truly diverse, transparent, and qualified board of directors.


Board member reimbursement will be limited to a per meeting stipend, travel expenses and reimbursement for costs associated with the conducting of board approved foundation business.


Board members may also be retained by the Foundation to provide services as may be necessary to further the achievement of its’ Mission. Salaries paid for such services shall be consistent with the prevailing wage for such services provided.


Board members who ‘invest’ in individual project corporations created by The Golden Gate Foundation will be provided a reasonable return on such investments to the extent allowed under the bylaw provisions of each type C Corporation created by The Foundation to further its Vision and Mission.


Attendance at Board meetings via Skype or other teleconference system is acceptable.


Advisory Board: 21 non-voting members

The Advisory Board must represent the diversity of the Bay Area. It should include; local and state gov’t representatives, officers of donor/sponsor companies, other non-profits (including those whose primary mission is to advocate for the construction of low income housing, experts in low income/affordable housing, developers with a successful and proven track record of constructing market rate AND Below Market Rate (BMR)/Low Income units, experts in the operation of amusement attractions, waterfront development, tourism, politics, and local neighborhood groups


The Golden Gate Foundation, nor any of it's affiliated Type C Corporations, does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.


Project 1: The Golden Gate Flyer: 

Our first project will be the construction of the largest observation ferris wheel in the world*, The Golden Gate Flyer, and financing it by a unique combination of a private/corporate mechanisms and via both non-profit and for profit corporations.


Based on estimated design, entitlement, construction and operational costs it will result in an estimated $100,000,000 or more of funding for the development of affordable housing, towards research into how to deliver such housing more efficiently, and to help change tax laws in a way that will encourage the development of more affordable housing.

  • A majority of the revenue generated will come from selling tickets to ride in its passenger capsules and from individual and corporate donations.
  • Convincing municipal organizations, large cap companies headquartered or with a significant presence in the San Francisco Bay Area to become Major Sponsor(s) in return for venue naming, other promotional branding opportunities.  The benefit of such partnership being the generation of positive public relations associated with helping to provide affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Donor corporations would include the entire diversity of industries located in the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley including;  Technology, Aerospace/Defense, Automotive, BioMedical, Education, Electronics, Energy, Entertainment, Finance, Food and Drink, Healthcare, Internet, Media, Real Estate, Retail, Software, Sports, Telecommunications, and Transportation.

The Proposed Site; (Treasure Island) 
Presently being redeveloped into a new community of 20,000 with a scheduled build out of 20 years. We propose to accelerate that schedule by ‘activating’ the project with the construction of the Golden Gate Flyer venue. If the retail component of Treasure Island is to be strong and dynamic such an ‘activating’ use will be necessary in order to enhance the appeal of the island to ‘retailers’ during the day when many of the islands resident population will be off island working.
  1. Entitlements; Height limit increase to 700’, obtain any necessary zoning modifications, and obtain permission for wheel overhang above the adjacent shoreline. (FAA, City, State, Bay Conservation and  Development Commission, State Land Trust)
  2. Ongoing Developments: We have determined that our pursuit of entitlements for the Golden Gate Flyer project will not jeopardize ongoing construction of Treasure Island improvements by the Treasure Island Community Developers. (TICD)  
  3. NIMBYism – As the Treasure Island site is not immediately proximate to established neighborhoods this issue, while still formidable, may not be as big a problem as typical for a project like this, especially considering we’d be raising substantial funds for affordable housing.

The Golden Gate Flyer Venue: A 700’ tall observation ferris wheel, 25,000 sq.ft. state of the art exhibition hall (show-casing the history of the Bay Area, technology and sustainability industries, and current and future innovations being conceived inside the laboratories of our sponsors), 500 person Imax Theater, two small ‘Experience Theaters, full service restaurant/bar, terra formed landscaped public park w/outdoor amphitheater, water features, butterfly habitat, sculpture gardens, and ‘The Clipper Spar’, an outdoor publicly accessible elevated deck extending 100’ over Clipper Cove. 

  1. The Golden Gate Exposition Hall will be dedicated to Stanford Professor Fredrick Terman and Robert Noyce, the ‘Father ' and 'Mayor' of Silicon Valley’ respectively.
  2.  All outdoor space to be open to the public, free of charge.
  3. The IMAX theater will be used for both public and private screenings of films and used as a presentation conference and performing arts venue for a variety of functions.  
  4. The two smaller ‘pulsing’ theaters will be used to prepare guests for their capsule flight and create a more fluid and efficient loading process. They will provide an 4D Virtual reality experience taking folks on a ‘virtual’ tour of all nine bay area counties. This film experience will be produced, directed, and star world class filmmakers and actors with roots in the Bay Area. (such as Francis/Sofia Coppola, George Lucas, John Lasseter, Tom Hanks, Benjamin Bratt, Ben Affleck, Danny Glover, Alicia Silverstone. etc.)
  5. The entire site will be built upon a ‘base isolated’ foundation system providing state of the art resilience in the event of a major seismic event.
  6. Some of the funds raised will be distributed to existing Non Profits whose mission is to provide BMR, affordable and low income housing in the SF Bay Area. The Golden Gate Foundation will NOT compete with these existing non-profits. The foundation will, instead, be a much needed additional source of revenue. 
  7. Harness the creative genius of the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley by funding research to develop new and more efficient ways to deliver affordable housing. Create a 'Creative Accelerator" to bring together a diverse group of folks who will focus on the issue of affordable housing.  
  8. Help establish state of the art standards and specifications for such housing.
  9. Eventually develop a state of the art pre-fab manufactured housing operation on Treasure Island. (For Research and Development)
  10. Get such standards adopted by Federal, State, and local building and housing codes in order to reduce confusion and create uniformity across state lines.
  11. Sponsor an annual World Wide competition to reward new and innovative technologies, materials, and methods of creating affordable housing.
  12. Fund research into better ways to rehabilitate and re-purpose existing buildings, specifically for use as live/work spaces for artists, craft-persons, musicians, and those wanting to live in a communal environment at reduced costs. Support the development of new building code standards for such living/working arrangements that provide minimal life/safety standards but allow for less than standard residential code requirements which needlessly increase the costs beyond affordability.
  13. Solicit the support of ‘Sustaining Sponsors’. Sustaining sponsors will be solicited from the many hundreds of large, medium, and small firms in the SF Bay Area. They will provide funding to match actual Golden Gate Flyer revenue generated by ticket sales. These ‘matching funds’ will be used to ‘fully amortize’ the outstanding debt incurred to build the GG Flyer Venue.
  14. Develop further ‘in-kind’ fundraising by soliciting contributions by firms who will provide services to the foundation, such as financial, accounting, publicity, advertising, legal, and special event organizers etc.
  15. Selling naming and sponsorship rights for each of the 36 capsules.
  16. Design removable ‘service’ modules to allow for fully catered capsule events. (Toilet, galley and wet-bar, lounge/dining areas)
  17. Provide catering kitchen to facilitate such catered events.
  18. Involve the local art, dance, film, and music community to include local artist involvement in the project.
  19. Encourage use of state of the art pre-fab construction on all Foundation funded projects to reduce construction costs.
  20. Design wheel to partially overhang the water to minimize site footprint and to add drama to the ride experience.
  21. High Speed Ferry- A high speed ferry is proposed to serve Treasure Island and reduce dependence on private vehicles. Also work with an established private ferry operator, such as Hornblower, to provide ferry service to Treasure Island.
  22. Provide a 450-space underground parking below site to replace parking previously approved. Discourage use of private vehicles by encouraging other forms of transport. No ‘flight’ tickets will be sold to anyone arriving on Treasure Island by private vehicle during commute hours or for ‘flights scheduled during such hours.
  23. A proposed pedestrian/bike access path from San Francisco to Yerba Buena/Treasure Island is in the design stage and may be in place within 4 years.
  24. Public access to bayshore MUST be maintained per BCDC.
  25. The project shall be sustainable and utilize the latest solar/renewable and environmentally friendly technology to reduce its environmental footprint. (LEED Platinum to be considered a minimum standard)
  26. The operation of the Wheel and all accessory attractions will be managed by a renowned and proven entertainment amusement park operator. Current strategy is to ask Merlin Entertainments, the second largest themed venue operator in the world after Disney, to manage and operate all Golden Gate Flyer attractions. They operate, among dozens of other entertainment/tourist venues, the London Eye, the most successful observation wheel in the world.
  27. Design unique employee uniforms that evoke both the spirit of a Worlds Fair, and air travel in the mid-20th century.
  28. Major Branding rights: The observation wheel will always be called The Golden Gate Flyer. Branding rights will allow firms to be ‘Official Sponsors’ similar to how Coca Cola purchased branding rights for the London Eye.
  29. A sophisticated and artistic lighting scheme that will be subtle and controllable as to be compatible with the existing Installation Art lights on the western span of the Bay Bridge. No advertising of any kind will be allowed on the wheel itself.
  30. Prepare a series of ‘white papers’ that provide a more in-depth analysis of the issue of affordable / low income housing.
  31. Homeless issues: Set aside a portion of donations raised each year and distribute to organizations providing direct assistance to homeless people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Such assistance to be limited to the provision of acute services such as temporary shelters and sanitary facilities or to help finance construction of Navigation Centers.  


Preliminary financial/cash flow projections:

36 Capsules hold approximately 40 passengers (around 1400 passengers at a time =max of 2800/hr) Total estimated visitors per year of around 2,500,000. (10,000,000/yr visit Pier 39) San Francisco’s total tourist/convention visits is approximately 25,000,000.

2,500,000 @ $38/ticket = $94,000,000/yr.  Additional revenue will be generated from private capsule rentals, conference fees, IMAX, venue naming rights, VIP Beverage/Food flights, other sponsorships, internet marketing, parking revenue, and food/beverage/merchandise sales, 


A portion of the cost of each ticket will be used to help support the provision of ferry transportation to the island. Current estimate is that $15,000,000/year will be provided to subsidize ferry service for our guests.  All ferry boats funded in part or in full by The Golden Gate Flyer Project must be, at a minimum, hybrid driven and have a capacity of over 600. The foundation will work directly with ferry operators and naval architects to ensure each boat is as environmentally friendly and fuel efficient as state of the art technology allows.


In 2015, San Francisco collected around $73,000,000 of ‘in lieu’ BMR fees.  An additional $20,000,000 per year for affordable housing will be provided by The Golden Gate Flyer project.  That $20,000,000, leveraged properly, could result in an additional $100,000,000 worth of affordable homes each year.


A portion of the costs of capsule tickets would be tax deductible. Tax deductibility might provide an additional incentive for folks to take a ride other than just as a pure tourist activity.


Construction cost of the Wheel and base facilities is roughly estimated at $750,000,000


Yearly operating costs have not yet been finally determined but have been estimated to be around $35,000,000/year. Cost of financing will vary depending upon final finance model used and level of corporate and individual project sponsorship obtained.


Major Consultants  

Designer: Techne + Logos 

Architect: Gensler and Associates - Proposed

Engineer: Arup Group (London Eye, High Roller, Singapore Flyer)

Operations: Merlin Entertainments (London Eye, Orlando Eye) - Proposed 

Finance: Transaction Mercantile, Finance strategy

Legal: Arent Fox

Public Relations: To be determined