San Francisco

With Planning Approval, Western SoMa's Eagle Plaza One Step Closer To Reality

Eagle Plaza—a public plaza proposed by Build Inc. to add green open space to Western SoMa and pay homage to the neighborhood's leather and LGBTQ communities—cleared another major hurdle last week.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve developer Build Inc.'s request to put $1.5 million toward the creation of Eagle Plaza, to be located on 12th Street between Harrison and Bernice, instead of paying the city's Eastern Neighborhood Impact Fee for its already approved seven-story apartment complex at 1532 Harrison St., which would be adjacent to the proposed plaza.

Planning's commissioners applauded the developer's design for the space, which calls for a shared right-of-way for vehicles and bicycles heading southbound, while prioritizing pedestrians. However, it's not final just yet. SF Public Works will need to have the final say on the proposed design (and maintenance plan), and reviews with the SFMTA, SF Fire Department, Arts Commission and other agencies are still ongoing.

Since Build Inc.'s last formal presentation on the plaza in September, a few slight design changes have already been made. In response to feedback from Rec and Parks, they've nixed the idea of including a small lawn in the "passive respite" portion of the plaza, replacing it with native shrubbery to add greenery to the space. The design has also been updated to include accommodations for food trucks, a commercial kiosk that can be activated by a daily vendor, and darker concrete, decorated with metal studs.

The addition of open, green space in the neighborhood seemed to resonate with the commission, as well as a handful of neighbors who spoke in support of the plazaDuring his presentation to the commission, Build Inc. principal Michael Yarne noted that the 2011 Western SoMa Area Plan found that while San Francisco as a whole offers 5.5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, western SoMa only offers .027 acres of open space per 1,000 residents.

"You can just imagine the circumstance of living in a place where the largest open space is the Best Buy parking lot," joked Ben Woosley, an organizer behind the new neighborhood group Western SoMa Voice.

If the plaza passes its reviews with Public Works and other city agencies, Build Inc. estimates that construction will begin by late 2017.


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