Riggers Loft winery to allow public use of restrooms, water fountain for Bay Trail users

Riggers Loft winery agrees to allow public use of restrooms, water fountain for Bay Trail users

Bicyclists and pedestrians will have access to new bathrooms and water fountains along a section of San Francisco Bay Trail in Richmond after the Riggers Loft Wine Company agreed last week to open its facilities to the public once the business is up and running.

On Thursday, the Richmond Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit allowing Alameda-based R&B Cellars, the parent company of Riggers Loft Wine Company, to open a wine production facility, wine tasting room and banquet facility inside the waterfront warehouse at 1420 Canal St.

The commission did not approve the permit, however, without tacking on an amendment stating the winery must offer walkers and bicyclists access to its restroom and water fountain facilities while it is open. The winery must also have a sign letting the public know the business hours of operation.

The company was amenable to the requests, saying it would also add a water dish for dogs. The winery’s intention all along was to allow for public use of its restrooms and water fountain to enhance the Bay Trail experience, said Charles Simkins, acting CEO of Riggers Loft Wine Company and board member for R&B Cellars.

“They’re our customers,” Simkins said. “We’re trying to keep them coming back.”

riggersloft2.4-6Should problems arise with the public’s use of the restrooms, which would be located inside the business, the winery would have to return to the city to alter the arrangement.

“It could be a problem. We don’t anticipated it will be,” Simkins said.

The Trails for Richmond Action Committee, which has spearheaded construction and expansion of the Bay Trail in Richmond, had expressed support for public use of the winery’s bathrooms, Commissioner Marilyn Langlois said.

“I think this is a really exciting new development,” Langlois said. “I think it will be a great destination not only for people driving out there but also people riding their bikes. It’s a stunning setting.”

Langlois added that she and other community members want to require anyone building or renovating along the shoreline to provide such amenities for those utilizing the Bay Trail.

Bicyclists will be able to park their two-wheelers at the overlook across from Riggers Loft, but Simkins said the winery could decide to add more bike parking if needed.

The 27,140-square-foot, newly renovated Riggers Loft warehouse was a WWII-era assembly plant. The Port of Richmond is renting out the space to the winery at a cost of $100,800 annually, according to the agreement.

As part of the lease agreement, the winery is permitted to receive grapes, ferment them and store and age wine in tanks and barrels. The lease also allows the owners to follow through with their intention to have a tasting room with accompanying food and to hold events.