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Youth services center vies for temporary use of Upper Haight McDonald's site

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By Camden Avery - Published on January 23, 2019.

Six weeks remain for applicants to throw their hats in the ring to take over the 38,000-square-foot former Upper Haight McDonald's site — for the next four to five years, anyway. 

In 2022, the block-deep site at 730 Stanyan St. (at Haight) will become an affordable housing development. But while plans are drafted and agreed upon, the city will allow an interim project to take over the site — provided it's financially self-sufficient, and is either owned by, used by, or primarily employs low- to moderate-income individuals.

An early contender for the site has been Off the Grid, which is looking to build a temporary market, food-truck park and community space on the site (a vision we outlined last fall). This week, founder Matt Cohen confirmed via email that the group is still moving forward with a proposal, though he said specific details remain in the works. 

But Off the Grid isn't the only group vying for the space.

The Coalition for a Complete Community (CCC), a group of local neighbors and nonprofits, is drafting a proposal to offer a center for homeless and at-risk youth on the site. It will also offer a community stage, garden, exercise area, and other public-serving amenities, according to CCC member Rupert Clayton.

The former McDonald's site was most recently used for holiday parking. | Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline

The crux of the CCC's proposal is that it won't use the McDonald's site to host any commercial enterprises that would compete with existing businesses in the Upper Haight.

"We believe that subsidizing temporary businesses via rent-free premises at 730 Stanyan serves only to jeopardize the jobs and livelihoods supported by neighborhood merchants," the group wrote in a summary shared with Hoodline.

Instead, the CCC's vision is for an "inviting, non-commercial space," with a youth services center run in concert with local service providers, as well as performances, gardening and family activities. The amenities would be aimed at both current area residents and  the low- to middle-income future residents of the affordable housing development. 

In terms of social services, the site would provide "a fixed base serving the needs of young people leaving foster care or without homes," according to the statement. Amenities could include showers and toilets, counseling, medical services and meals.

For his part, Off the Grid's Cohen said that his proposed commercial use of the space wouldn't exclude the possibility of hosting other community spaces and services.

Last year, Off the Grid lost its longtime berth at the Waller Street skate park to make room for equipment needed for the two-year Upper Haight infrastructure improvement project. But if the proposal for the McDonald's doesn't go through, Cohen said he's also identified two alternative sites nearby.

The window for proposals is open through the end of February, after which the city will review alternatives and select a candidate to move forward with the McDonald's site. We'll keep you posted on any other contenders, and on the eventual winner. 

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