SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After four years of construction, the $551 million expansion to San Francisco’s Moscone Center opened for business on Thursday morning.

During a lavish ribbon-cutting ceremony at the center’s South building on Howard Street, which included over 1,000 guests, Mayor London Breed and other city officials helped celebrate the completed project.

READ MORE: Pleasanton Searchers Fail To Find Any Trace Of Missing Jogger Philip Kreycik

“This expansion is something that is overdue. It is going to help generate the kind of tourism that San Francisco is so very proud of,” Breed said.

“This expansion takes us into a level of capacity and quality that will clearly compete with other venues around the world,” said Jeff Joslin of the San Francisco Planning Department.

The project added 157,000 square feet to the center, bringing the total amount of usable space at the center’s three buildings, Moscone North, South and West, to 1,139,775 square feet.

Combined, all three buildings now boast a total of 114 flexible meeting rooms, in addition to expansive lobbies and outdoor terraces offering iconic San Francisco views.

People stand on one of the new terraces and look out at the skyline during the Moscone Center expansion opening Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in San Francisco.  (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The expanded center was designed to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Status, with innovative features such as its own water treatment system, converting an estimated 15 million gallons of recovered rainwater annually for landscaping and street cleaning.

Additionally, the building features its own solar panel array, the largest in the city and one of the largest publicly-owned solar power systems in the U.S. Solar energy generated from the center’s panels will provide the center with about 20 percent of its power.

Premiere convention space, however, is not San Francisco’s only challenge in landing conventions. In July, a major medical group that had been coming to the city since the 1980’s canceled their convention on account of San Francisco’s highly-publicized struggles with homelessness, drugs, waste and property crime.

San Francisco has recently experienced the highest rate of car break-ins of any major city in America. “It’s a real concern, I think,” admits Joe D’Alessandro of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.

READ MORE: Family, Neighbors Stunned By San Francisco Teenage Girl's Murder; 'It Breaks My Heart'

“People want to make sure when they go to a travel destination that they’re safe and secure, and if there’s any image or any thought of San Francisco not being a safe or secure city, it causes a big challenge.”

Breed stayed on-brand when asked about these challenges, reiterating plans for 1,000 new shelter beds and other efforts to scale up the city’s efforts on homelessness and street conditions.

“No, we’re not going to be able to address these challenges overnight,” Breed said at the Moscone Center dedication. “My goal is to make sure that we make the right investments so that the results will be something that people can see and feel when they’re walking down the streets. and that’s going to take time.”

During Thursday morning’s ribbon cutting ceremony, Breed rededicated the center in honor of its namesake, former San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, who served as mayor up until his assassination inside City Hall in 1978.

Breed described him as being “committed to our core values of inclusion, bringing people together, and pushing forward transformative projects.”

Additionally, Breed also announced that the lobby in the center’s South building will be named in honor of former Mayor Ed Lee, who passed away unexpectedly in 2017.

“Because of the leadership of our late Mayor Ed Lee, this was possible,” Breed said. “As a result of his hard work, here we are, at an incredible facility.”

Some of the well-known larger events held at the Moscone Center include Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference, Oracle’s annual Oracle OpenWorld convention and the Game Developers Conference.


MORE NEWS: Sharks' Star Evander Kane Denies Game-Fixing Allegations From Wife; 'I Have Never Gambled/Bet On Hockey'

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.