Amidst Uncertainty Over Its Future, 'Playland At 43rd' Celebrates 1st Anniversary

Amidst Uncertainty Over Its Future, 'Playland At 43rd' Celebrates 1st AnniversaryHalloween 2016. | Photo: Playland at 43rd Ave./Facebook
Fiona Lee
Published on May 19, 2017

After Mayor Ed Lee announced that the Francis Scott Key Annex at 1360 43rd Ave. (between Irving and Judah streets) would become teacher housing, one question went unanswered: what would happen to Playland at 43rd Avenue, the park currently on the site? 

Set to celebrate its first anniversary on Saturday, Playland's future remains unclear. 

Spread over 1.25 acres, Playland at 43rd Avenue was always meant to be a temporary pop-up while San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), which owns the site, explored more permanent options for one of the Outer Sunset's largest parcels. 

The park was born out of collaboration between multiple groups and agencies. Architecture and design firm Perkins + Will, better known for large-scale projects like the Ferry Building complex and 140 New Montgomery, donated their time and services to design the site. A consortium of city departments, including Supervisor Katy Tang, Pavement to Parks (now known as GroundPlay), SFUSD, and SF Planning worked to make the park a reality.

Neighbors also came out over many work days to build the park itself, volunteering their time to create the park's skate area, community garden, and paint its murals and decorations. 

The skate area under construction in 2016. | Photo: Left Side Skateboards

"This project was so community-centric," said Jeremy Bamberger, the local urban designer at Perkins + Will who led the creative vision for Playland. "It’s a great place where the community can engage with each other."

True to its community roots, Playland hosts regular events and programs, much of it suggested by neighbors. It regularly offers yoga classes on Tuesdays and Sundays and hosts garden programs for children. Work days continue to be offered, and one was held just last weekend to paint new murals for the skate park. And in the past, it has also hosted potlucks and holiday events.

Two neighbors take a look at their garden at Playland. | Photo: Playland at 43rd Avenue/Facebook

Friends of Playland, which operates programming for the site, hopes to stay on for as long as possible. 

"There’s no one who has said that the closing date is such-and-such a time," said Susan Ryan, Playland's program manager, who pointed out that neither a developer or a plan have been selected. "I’m hoping that we’ll be able to use the space until a groundbreaking [for the new teacher housing]."

When we reached out to Supervisor Katy Tang for more information on how long Playland would be able to stay on the site, she said nothing had been determined on the teacher housing proposal. Her office plans to hold a community meeting in June to discuss Playland's future.

Children playing basketball. | Photo: Playland at 43rd Avenue/Facebook

Whatever the park's fate, Ryan says that its success has "clearly established it in our neighborhood." She hopes that they'll be allowed to stay, or become a permanent part of the Annex even after it becomes teacher housing. 

But even if that isn't a possibility, there are other options. 

"There are always unused spaces that can become a neighborhood resource," she told us. "We’ll look for alternatives in the neighborhood."