June 8, 2009

The Parkmerced Thirty Year Plan: Public Scoping Meeting Tonight

Parkmerced Existing Site Plan (click to enlarge)

While the Planning Department is working on the Envirornmental Impact Report (EIR), a public scoping meeting for the proposed Parkmerced Redevelopment Project will be held tonight (June 8, 2009, from 6-8 PM at the YMCA Annex, 3150 20th Avenue).

The proposed Parkmerced Project is a long-term mixed-use development program to comprehensively re-plan and redesign the Parkmerced site, increase residential density, provide new commercial and retail services and transit facilities, and improve utilities within the development site. About 1,683 of the existing apartments located in 11 tower buildings would be maintained, and over a period of approximately 30 years, the remaining 1,538 existing apartments would be demolished in phases and fully replaced, and an additional 5,679 net new units would be added to the Project Site.

Parkmerced Proposed Site Plan (click to enlarge)

With project implementation, there would be a total of 8,900 units on the Project Site. The Proposed Project also includes construction of a new neighborhood core containing neighborhood-serving retail and office space, including such potential uses as a grocery store, restaurants, and banks.

Yet to be resolved (as far as we know), a bid to grant Parkmerced landmark status based on its place in "planning history," courtyards and landscape design.

Parkmerced: Project Scoping And Environmental Impact Report Notice [SFGov]
Planning For 5,700 New Homes In San Francisco’s Parkmerced [SocketSite]
Parkmerced: From The Plans To Develop, To The Plans To Preserve [SocketSite]
Parkmerced: A Cultural Landscape Foundation "Marvel of Modernism" [SocketSite]

First Published: June 8, 2009 9:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

God, what ideas WONT some SF'ers try in order to stop development?

Posted by: Joe at June 8, 2009 10:23 AM

Does anyone have more details with regards to what's going on in that section between Brotherhood and Gonzalez Drive? It looks like a lot of development is being removed to create a greenbelt??? And so then are the light-green sections perhaps athletic fields? It almost appears they are trying to create a vista from the central circle, but what is there particularly to see off to the Southwest?

Posted by: Average Joe at June 8, 2009 1:39 PM

There are a lot of landscape architecture history buffs who are freaking out over this redevelopment. That's why the move to landmark. Parkmerced really does have a place in the annals of mid-20th century landscape design.

Posted by: Eric in SF at June 8, 2009 2:42 PM

There are a lot of people all over SF freaking out over many proposed development. thankfully, we dont live in a museum, or a theme park. Homes for people should win over preservation of landscape architecture from the late 40's early 50's

Posted by: Bob at June 8, 2009 3:05 PM

I'm not saying I agree that this particular project is worthy of landmark status as I've not really evaluated it beyond the obvious issues being discussed. Do you believe *any* human-made structure should be preserved for future generations? If you do agree that things we create should be preserved forever, what criteria would you use to select things for preservation?

Posted by: Eric in SF at June 8, 2009 3:19 PM

I do think that there are buildings which need to be preserved:
The leaning tower of Pisa
The Parthenon
Westminster Palace
Places which have many many (50 isn't close to many many) years of history - where history has been made and recognized by many generations of people.

a testament to planning mistakes of the 50's doesnt cut it in my book.

Posted by: Bob at June 8, 2009 3:46 PM

Bob - Perhaps your personal list of sites that should be protected is limited to the icons of tourism. However not everyone feels that way. UNESCO has a list of World Heritage sites here : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list

While the UNESCO WHC list includes the typical cathedrals and castles, it also includes some stuff that you might not expect, like disused coal mines : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/975 or a reclaimed swamp : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/899

Just because you can't find a place on postcards doesn't mean that it is not worthy of preservation.

... not that I think that Parkmerced is worthy of protection, just that a site's value might not be immediately obvious.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 8, 2009 4:03 PM

Ok, so by that criteria, we can blow up the chrysler building in NYC to make a taller one or fallingwater by frank lloyd wright. I'll get my bulldozer ready...

Posted by: cartman at June 8, 2009 4:07 PM

Bob, your 50 year rule is a tautology, given that the typical economic lifetime of office and residential construction is usually less than 50 years.

Still, I am not in favor of preserving office parks or apartment complexes. Can we start bulldozing Mission Blah soon?

Posted by: Delancey at June 8, 2009 4:15 PM

Yes, thats the point - thanks for illustrating it.
We do not need to preserve the typical.
There are many places in the world with office and housing older than 50 years. Believe it or not!

Posted by: Bob at June 8, 2009 4:21 PM

"Parkmerced really does have a place in the annals of mid-20th century landscape design."


Then they should be sure to take plenty of pictures before they bulldoze it.

Posted by: diemos at June 8, 2009 5:38 PM

Bob, would you have preserved the Fox Theatre or do you think the Fox Plaza housing units built in its place are a better use of the land?

Posted by: Eric in SF at June 8, 2009 6:02 PM

I understand the gardens are very interesting and important; an acceptable compromise would be to preserve some of the gardens for enjoyment by the residents as well as for study by future landscape design students, historians and other fans. A reasonable amount of preservation would do the trick, and still accommodate new housing units.

Posted by: midcentfan at June 9, 2009 6:08 AM

The Fox theatre was a treasure - and it was an absolute architectural loss to the entire bay area when it was demolished.
The people in power at the time should have created a plan for further development of the land with absolute preservation of the theatre.

To be clear, I am completely opposed to preserving any aspect of the park merced development.

Posted by: Bob at June 9, 2009 8:44 AM

Bob, I can't get a sense of where you stand for preservation. Some of your comments made it sound like you were a strict capitalist and nothing should be preserved if a higher economic function for the land is available. Your last comment makes it sound like you're not completely opposed to some preservation.

I personally would be firmly against Parkmerced preservation if the only reason it was up for landmarking was to obstruct new development.

In this case, there is a real question about real preservation and I honestly have to say that I am not qualified to even speculate. I'm very aware of something being hated with a passion during one era and the next era reveres that same object. Sorta like how we hated the Transamerica Pyramid when it went up and we love it now.

Posted by: Eric in SF at June 9, 2009 10:09 AM

The owner of Parkmerced is in default.

Posted by: EBGuy at May 25, 2010 5:32 PM

www.tclf.org Marvels of Modernism Landscapes at risk 2008.

The need is to discuss the "infill" option versus bulldozing, and adequate direct linkage to Daly City Bart through fair-share impact assessments on transit (city of marina vs. csu)

The landscape is worth landmarking as it is eligible per the developers (intentionally limited and filled with flaws study) to be eligible for the National Reghister. Without an independent analysis its the same Lennar, and SOM (Treasure Island and BVHP) housing schemes that benefit the profiteering speculative developers versus the existing communities in need of affordable rental housing

Posted by: Aaron Goodman at August 31, 2010 11:22 AM

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