SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A renovation project broke ground today that will strengthen Esprit Park to better serve the Dogpatch neighborhood that has grown up around it, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced.
The renewed park will keep the spirit of the 2-acre park’s original design while bisecting its large grassy area into two meadows—the north for off-leash dogs and their guardians; the south for picnickers and families. The park will be ringed with new picnic areas and exercise equipment and will be more sustainable, with new native plants and disease-resistant trees. The $8.5 million project is largely funded by a grant from UCSF and benefited from the assistance of the Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District.
The park was originally built by clothing manufacturer Esprit in 1982 as an outdoor area for its employees. Over the next 40 years, the population of the neighborhood quintupled, causing major wear and tear on the park that was never designed for a crowd. Ownership was transferred to Rec and Park in 2001.
“Dogpatch is a thriving neighborhood and green space like Esprit Park is vital to the health and happiness of its residents,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “This project is about ensuring Esprit Park will last for future generations and serve everyone, from families and kids to dog lovers to fitness enthusiasts.”
Neighborhood residents and merchants helped shape the park’s new design, which was drawn up by Fletcher Studio Landscape Architecture + Urban Design.
“Esprit has been a treasured bit of nature in a very urban neighborhood, and Dogpatch residents were clear they wanted it to remain that way,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Our goal is to preserve this natural oasis while making it durable and sustainable.”
UCSF, which owns 6 acres in the Dogpatch neighborhood, provided $5 million for the renovation—one of five neighborhood improvement projects it is funding as a community investment in the neighborhoods near its Mission Bay campus. The remaining funding for the project is provided by $3.5 million in Eastern Neighborhoods Development Impact Fees.
“UCSF worked collaboratively with residents of San Francisco’s Dogpatch and Potrero Hill communities to identify projects that would enhance the neighborhood and strengthen community,” said Francesca Vega, vice chancellor, UCSF Community & Government Relations. “We are delighted to support the revitalization of Esprit Park, the only city park in Dogpatch, to improve safety, access, and utilization of a longtime neighborhood treasure.”
“Esprit Park has been a constant green oasis in Dogpatch for 40 years, but the neighborhood surrounding the park, our expectations for our parks, and even our climate have changed dramatically,” said Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District Executive Director Julie Christensen. “This renovation will make the park more environmentally sound, more green and resilient, and better able to provide amenities for our expanding community.”
Esprit Park will be closed for about a year during the renovation.