About the Executive Director

The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Executive Director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan oversees the $4.5 billion Transbay Transit Center Program – the first modern high speed rail station in the United States. The Transbay Program consists of a new multi-modal station in San Francisco, California featuring intercity, regional, and local buses and commuter and high speed rail. The Program will connect 11 different public transit systems in one facility and build a 40-acre pedestrian friendly community on former state owned parcels with seven new high rises, including the tallest building in San Francisco, approximately 4,500 new housing units, commercial and retail development, and 11 acres of new parks. By providing the public with safe, convenient, and inexpensive public transit options, and by creating a livable community near transit, employment, shopping, and other urban amenities, the Transbay Program is a national model for the integration of land use and transportation planning.

Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan is responsible for every aspect of the design, funding, and construction of the Transbay Project. In 2003, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan engineered and negotiated an historic agreement among the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the City and County of San Francisco, and the TJPA under which Caltrans agreed to transfer the obsolete and seismically unsafe Transbay Terminal and 12 additional acres of Caltrans land previously used for the Embarcadero Freeway system, without charge, to the TJPA and the City for the construction of the new Transit Center and bus ramps, with the remainder of the property to be sold to developers to fund construction of the Transbay Program. To implement this innovative program, she brought the Transbay Program from the theoretical and conceptual stage through design, public review, and funding, to the start of construction in August 2010. To bring the Program to this point, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan, assisted by hundreds of engineers, architects, and other professionals under her supervision, obtained all regulatory approvals from the state and federal government, raised more than $2 billion, including a $171 million loan from the U. S. Department of Transportation, and secured a federal high speed rail stimulus grant of $400 million from President Obama and the United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

In March 2013, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan sold a 50,000 square foot former Caltrans parcel adjacent to the new Transit Center, known as 101 Mission, to a joint venture of real estate developers Boston Properties and Hines. The partnership of two of the world’s leading office developers will construct the 1070 foot Transbay Transit Tower on the site. The Transbay Transit Tower, designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli and Fred Clarke, will be the tallest building in San Francisco, redefining the City’s skyline. At more than $3,700 per square foot of land, the deal for 101 Mission set a record for the highest price paid per square foot of land for a commercial property in San Francisco history. The land sale was the culmination of negotiations that began in the Fall of 2007 following the selection of Hines in the TJPA’s international design and development competition. The sale price of $192 million will be a major source of funds for construction of the Transbay Transit Center. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan headed the negotiations leading to the sale.

To complete the sale of 101 Mission, Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan and her team were required to navigate the financial crash in 2008 that sent the office market into a steep decline, political opposition to shadows from the Tower, and a lengthy process for design, environmental review, and approval of the Tower. The 101 Mission deal includes valuable amenities for the public, including Boston/Hines’s obligation to construct a public plaza known as Mission Square on the site that will serve as the primary entrance to the Transit Center, and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Tower to the rooftop park of the Transit Center. The iconic Tower will serve as a beacon for the Transit Center, a safe modern state of the art transportation facility and gateway to San Francisco.

The completion of the Tower deal with Boston and Hines is the latest in a series of successes for the Transbay Program. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was also instrumental in San Francisco’s adoption of the Transit Center District Plan, which will allow greater building heights in the Transbay area in exchange for density bonus payments, Mello-Roos taxes, impact fees, and redevelopment tax increment that will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the Transbay Program. The Plan also features a new transit-oriented neighborhood anchored by the new Transit Center with thousands of new housing units, many of which will be affordable; new parks; and new office towers that will add more than 6 million square feet to San Francisco’s flourishing office market.

Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Hastings College of Law. She is a Member of the State Bar of California and has served on numerous Boards and Commissions. She has also been recognized by various organizations for her work in the area of public transportation and land use. In addition to her many honors and awards, the San Francisco Business Times has inducted Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan into their Most Influential Women Hall of Fame.