After a few twists, turns and re-evaluations, a new plan for the project known as 8 Washington Street hit the street with revised building heights and the extension of Jackson and Pacific (via landscaped pedestrian malls) to the Embarcadero. Through some private tennis courts and a swimming pool, of course. To what lengths will people go to preserve their tennis courts? Apparently, quite far. We can look at all the pretty pictures we want, but down on the Embarcadero, the neighborhood, aka FOGG, or Friends of Golden Gate, has been battling this intrusion upon their club since Hector was a pup.
Of the sixteen hundred members, only a quarter live in the neighborhood just south of Broadway, some in expensive condos but most in rent-controlled apartments, and before the new plan and pretty pictures were even released, in mid-August, 2010, FOGG filed a preemptive lawsuit claiming the entire Northeast Embarcadero Study was illegal because it lacked an environmental review. We should add that this is probably one of the most beautiful venues in the known world upon which to play tennis; it's FOGG against an array of local superpower agencies: SF Redevelopment, Ports, and the Planning Commission. Even though the plan calls for the club to be integrated into the project, FOGG's not having it.
A little background: In the early sixties, the site of warehouses and San Francisco's produce market was turned over to developers by the Redevelopment Agency. Out of that, we got the iconic Embarcadero Center and the Alcoa Building, along with a number of discreetly boring residential projects over the next two decades, all built on parking platforms. With the exception of a Safeway, almost no street activity except for curb cuts along this stretch of Jackson and Pacific Streets. Along the Embarcadero, before the dismantling of the elevated freeway, one of the developers built the fenced-off tennis and swim club next to a sliver of an empty lot- named Seawall 351- which was retained by the Port Commission. No one at the time foresaw the rebirth of the Embarcadero, or was concerned about linking the Financial District and Barbary Coast to it. The long and illuminating version is well worth reading, if only to grasp how this part of town wound up so citizen-unfriendly.
The Curbed suggestion for peace? Build it, but first tear up the parking lot just to the north at Broadway and Embarcadero and install new tennis courts. If the folks on Telegraph Hill have anything to say, nothing will be built there for decades. Input welcome in the comments section.
· 8 Washington Street/Seawall Lot 351 [Waterfront Partners]
· Friends of Golden Gateway [FOGG]
· Lawsuit! [FOGG]
· Northeast Embarcadero Study [SF Planning]
· David Chiu Wants to Know What's Up With the Waterfront [Curbed SF Archives]
· Development Watch: 8 Washington, Take Deux [Curbed SF Archives]