SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will begin construction this November on South Park, one of San Francisco’s oldest parks. South Park is located at 64 South Park Avenue. The park is approximately 34,000 square feet and has a children’s play area, a walkway, a natural lawn, landscaping, and related amenities, encircled by South Park Street where it runs from Second Street to Third Street. The $2.8 million renovation is funded by both 2012 and 2008 Parks Bonds, as well as the Eastern Neighborhoods Impact Fees and a generous donation from South Park Improvement Association. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to take place at South Park on Tuesday, November 10th starting at 3:30PM.
“I am excited that South Park’s renovation will provide modern park amenities and design features for the South Park community,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district includes South Park. “I want to thank the South Park Improvement Association and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department for their decades of advocacy to modernize and upgrade South Park for residents and visitors to enjoy.”
South Park was the creation of an Englishman by the name of George Gordon who began purchasing lots between Bryant and Brannan and Second and Third Streets in 1852. The South Park neighborhood was considered fashionably upscale when it was built. The construction of homes and the oval garden at the center of South Park, which was accessible to residents only, began in earnest in 1854. The original design was that of a picturesque strolling park reminiscent of those found in and around London, and the Park was home to thousands of trees and shrubs. And finally in 1897, the City and County of San Francisco acquired the garden around which South Park was built, and presented it as a public park.
“While South Park has been in need of improvements over the years, it has remained to be a popular picnic destination for those who live and work nearby,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “We look forward to reopening the renovated South Park in fall 2016 where the Park will be better equipped to serve the diverse park users of San Francisco.”
The utter destruction of South Park in the 1906 earthquake forever changed the dynamics of the neighborhood and the park. What arose from the rubble was a working class neighborhood that lasted for nearly 70 years. Along the way, South Park fell on hard times, and it wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that an influx of entrepreneurial thinking began the decades-long transformation of South Park from an earthquake-damaged area to a developed residential area.
In 1983, a group of park neighbors and business owners joined together to form the South Park Improvement Association (SPIA) to foster park stewardship and pursue funding and other resources to improve South Park. Later, in December 2009, SPIA in partnership with SF Rec and Park, embarked on a community planning process to develop plans for the full renovation of the Park.
“Through the 8-year process of working towards the revision of South Park, many of us have grown to know our neighbors better. We all know that would have never come about without the dedication of many,” said Toby Levy from South Park Improvement Association. “We hope that the park will continue to have its “lived-in” feel and continue to be the urban respite for those who live, work and visit it.”
Over the course of four years, SPIA worked to gain community support for a master plan for the site, and advocated for funding for the improvements. In May 2012, SPIA, with assistance from the San Francisco Parks Alliance (SFPA), approached SF Rec and Park with a proposal for partnership to design and fund a major capital renovation for South Park.
“The South Park Improvement Association has worked hard to bring improvements to this historic park. The San Francisco Parks Alliance is proud to have worked with SPIA and the Recreation and Park Department to bring the vision to reality,” said Matt O’Grady, Chief Executive Officer of the Parks Alliance.
Today, the design plan for the renovated South Park is a contemporary interpretation of the classic picturesque park with park amenities and programming spaces along a widened pathway that meanders through the park’s trees and landscaped areas. The design has proposed a variety of different programmatic spaces including a children’s play area, a large open meadow, plazas of varying scales, a variety of areas designed for sitting and picnicking as well as traffic calming and improved access from 2nd and 3rd Streets. Additional improvements may include bulb-outs and chicanes for traffic calming, bio-infiltration swales, and a rainwater cistern for irrigation usage with additional funding needed to complete the work. Please check web link: http://sfrecpark.org/wp-content/uploads/131102PresentationFinal.pdf.