One of the most contentious proposed developments in San Francisco right now is Maximus Real Estate's SOM-designed 10-story building at 1979 Mission Street, right next to the 16th Street BART station. Detractors have complained about the project for many reasons, but one of their most tangible objections is the shadow it would cast over the playground of nearby Marshall Elementary. In a move that's at once inspired and defiantly pragmatic, Maximus has offered raise the playground 15 feet above ground so that no shadows will fall over children at play. This modified playground in the sky would also lift children away from the often crime-ridden streets surrounding their school, a solution that has a kind of irresistible rhetorical appeal, we must admit.
Of course, the playground isn't Maximus's only problem. The 303-unit development is being called too big, too expensive, and a harbinger of gentrification, one that would change the character of the Mission. Maximus's offer to raise the playground above street level is just one part of a comprehensive community benefits package to be offered to local residents. Other sweeteners would likely include increasing the number of below-market-rate units well above the city's required minimum of 12 percent.
The playground idea and other proposed benefits haven't dissuaded Plaza16, a group organized against the new building, from continuing their efforts. On October 4, Plaza16 will hold a march and rally to promote affordable housing and protest the 1979 Mission plans. Even if Maximus sent employees armed with mirrors to sit in trees and personally bounce sunlight onto the playground, we have a feeling Plaza16 would not back down. The group wants Maximus to transfer the 1979 Mission land to the community and abandon plans for development.
· SF School Playground Could Rise to New Heights [SFGate]
· Battle Rages Over Proposed Housing at 16th Street BART [Curbed SF]