March 4, 2009
Metreon Makeover Approved, Entrance Rendered And Ready In 2010
San Francisco Redevelopment Agency commissioners on Tuesday evening unanimously approved plans by new owners Westfield Group and Forest City Enterprises to rearrange the [Metreon] to better integrate it with the booming museum district neighborhood in SoMa.
Under the approved plans, shops and restaurants will line the outer perimeter of the ground floor; popular New York restaurant Tavern on the Green will occupy the top floor; a food terrace will face Yerba Buena Gardens; and lights will colorfully illuminate the Fourth Street facade.
The successful cinema complex will remain on the third floor.
The Metreon's main entrance (rendered above) will be moved to the middle of Fourth Street, and the made over storefronts "are expected to open in time for the 2010 end-of-year shopping season."
∙ Revamped Metreon slated to be restaurant-centric [San Francisco Examiner]
∙ Another Metreon Makeover: Opening Up And Out To Bring People In [SocketSite]
First Published: March 4, 2009 9:00 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Reminds me of the entrance to Riverwalk in New Orleans, sans neon.
Posted by: EH at March 4, 2009 9:15 AM
These development plans are making me hungry.
Posted by: Mole Man at March 4, 2009 9:18 AM
Looks more like a library or downtown campus of SF State. Not the inviting entrance I was expecting. Hopefully this is just a bad rendering?
Posted by: etslee at March 4, 2009 9:19 AM
Reminds me of the entrance to Riverwalk in New Orleans, sans neon.
Isn't Riverwalk in San Antonio, not New Orleans? Or is there one there also?
Either way, I'm all in favor of any plans to improve the Metreon. The structure has so much underutilized potential in my mind.
[Editor's Note: Riverwalk New Orleans and agreed.]
Posted by: The Drizzler at March 4, 2009 9:42 AM
I was just at the Metreon last night and as I was walking out, past all the vacant space, I couldn't help think what a colossal failure it turned out to be.
Good to see there are plans to help revitalize this space.
Posted by: badlydrawnbear at March 4, 2009 9:53 AM
It's just never gotten enough traffic for some reason. I always thought the top floor would make a great club.
Posted by: Paul Hwang at March 4, 2009 10:00 AM
I think it gets plenty of traffic, but the retail spaces are poorly designed, the wrong tenants have been sought after, etc.
Posted by: Brutus at March 4, 2009 10:06 AM
This is great news and a much needed upgrade. The Metreon never met the ground well and the interior space was always an uninviting maze.
Posted by: spitpalm at March 4, 2009 10:07 AM
"I couldn't help think what a colossal failure it turned out to be"
It was designed at an earlier time, before Moscone Center had expanded towards market street and before the museums and public spaces had really gotten going in that area, leading to increased pedestrian traffic.
Until then, they figured people would basically run from 4th and Market to the Metreon corner nearest 4th and market and then go inside. There was no need to encourage the riff raff hanging around outside to come in. As I recall, the Sony store didn't actually sell anything, at least when it first opened. The loss rates would have been horrendous.
That's all changed and so they can now make the surrounding areas more friendly and inviting.
So they basically took kind of a dog location and tried to make it work. In the meantime, 10 years later, the area around became more friendly, and so they are now able to take advantage of that. That area is still not great, but it's light years away from where it was.
Well over a billion dollars in investment was needed to make it a passable area. And it's only a block or two that saw any change at all in ten years. Not the sort of thing I see happening for other supposedly up and coming areas: Mint Plaza, ORH, Esprit Park, etc.
No doubt, salespeople everywhere will point to it as a shining example of an area that improved, but it takes so much time and money to make it happen, that unless you see real plans by a public agency, not dependent on the state of the economy, it's a big risk, and a lot of time, and one should be well compensated for that time and risk.
Posted by: tipster at March 4, 2009 10:24 AM
"before Moscone Center had expanded towards market street"
It did? It expanded across an intersection, sort of the wrong way, toward fifth. I guess toward Market too?
"And it's only a block or two that saw any change at all in ten years. Not the sort of thing I see happening for other supposedly up and coming areas: Mint Plaza, ORH, Esprit Park, etc."
Ten years you say? No change along 3rd or along the Esprit park cross streets, huh? No change along 3rd in general? Or on 2nd street or South Park? No change in South Beach? No change in Glen Park? No change in Bernal? Southern Noe Valley?
Posted by: anonn at March 4, 2009 10:32 AM
Yeah, tipster has it a bit confused. Metreon was planned in concert with the subterranean addition of Moscone (underneath yerba buena gardens). Certainly the Museum districts has come into its own since, but it was also planned and on the way to implementation.
The orientation towards 4th and Mission made and makes sense given that the main mass of people first approach the metreon at that corner, both from Market Street and from the 5th/Mission parking garage. I'm actually a bit confused at the new main entrance at mid-block on 4th, because that directly faces Moscone West convention facility, not exactly an important source of shoppers most days. Unfortunately, the Metreon will always have to live with that long blank facade across the street.
Without having seen the plans, I'm assuming that Westfield will keep an access point near the corner of 4th and Mission, and that this new "main entrance" will be some window dressing to help rationalize the space planning of interior space, which is currently interesting in a jetsonian way, but completely impractical retail-wise.
What I really like about the plan is being able to see through the 4th street facade to Yerba Buena Gardens, and also having escalators going straight to the second floor from the street. That should be great.
Hopefully they will do something similar to open up the Mission Street Facade, although they are hampered by a lot of emergency exit doors from Moscone along that stretch.
Posted by: curmudgeon at March 4, 2009 12:30 PM
I was referring to Moscone West, built 4 years after Metreon.
Posted by: tipster at March 4, 2009 1:48 PM
I thought part of the plan is to have at least some of the ground floor storefronts open onto the sidewalk. That would create entry points all along 4th and Mission, not just at this primary entrance. Am I mistaken?
Posted by: Turin at March 4, 2009 2:46 PM
RE: the entrance. It is on 4th Street about 25% of the way down the block from Mission St., just where it should have been to begin with. No one approaches any building from the corner (except in those downtown intersections with the "Barnes Dance" all-way walk signals - not likely to happen at 4th and Mission, which is a freeway entrance route). When Moscone Center is in operation (most days), tens of thousands of people walk down 4th street a couple of times a day, at least. The new main entrance is something like a 20' escalator bay and a 50' open passageway looking through to the gardens. The whole building will have two stories of glazing, and the ability for uses along 4th Street to have independent entrances to the sidewalk.
(Unfortunately, little can be done with the row of emergency exit doors on Mission servicing the below grade hotel meeting rooms.) The problem with this building as originally built was not social problems in the neighborhood, or a lack of pedestrian traffic (Moscone North and South were in full swing then) but the "shopping center" mentality of the original developer who wanted it to be an enclosed mall. To the extent there are social problems in the neighborhood, the new Mid-Market Community Benefit District and the soon to start Yerba Buena Community Benefit District should be a real help.
Posted by: Jim at March 4, 2009 2:48 PM
Well, arguably this building you do approach from "the corner". At least, arguably, most people coming to the Metreon will pass the 4th and Mission corner first (because of the location of BART/Muni/Market/Garage. But that is no real criticism of the plan; the fact that it is partway down 4th, but closer to Mission, will draw people past the corner and make that corner retail space highly desirable (hopefully).
Agreed that the inward facing mall concept was a disaster. Especially when there is so much opportunity to celebrate the view to the gardens.
One of my least favorite things about the Metreon (and which this plan won't change, apparently) is the way the theater takes an absolutely glorious space with a panoramic view of the gardens and the city view, and stuffs it full of obnoxious video games. But that's another rant. :-)
Posted by: curmudgeon at March 4, 2009 5:32 PM