Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018
 

SF leather-themed Eagle Plaza heads to planning for approval

A view of the proposed Eagle Plaza on 12th Street shows a new garden area with the gay Eagle bar in the back right corner. Courtesy Build Inc.

A view of the proposed Eagle Plaza on 12th Street shows a new garden area with the gay Eagle bar in the back right corner. Courtesy Build Inc.

A San Francisco leather-themed public plaza planned for South of Market is headed to the city’s planning commission for approval after a three month delay.

Expected to be heard in November, the $2 million project known as Eagle Plaza will instead be taken up by the oversight body at its meeting Thursday, February 11. With broad community support and the backing of planning staff, it is expected that the project will be passed by the planning commission.

“The proposed streetscape improvements support the policies and projects established in the Western Soma Area Plan,” wrote planner Mat Snyder in his report on the plaza. “The project would enhance pedestrian safety, provide additional public open space and community programming opportunities, and contribute to an improved public realm in this rapidly developing neighborhood.”

In a letter to the planning commission signaling its support of the project, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence noted that there are no parks or public space in that section of SOMA, something a number of city reports and task forces have called to be built.

“It also has a rich LGBTQ and leather culture that various community-driven city plans have identified as being important,” wrote Sister Anni Coque l’Doo, abbess and president of the drag nun philanthropic group. “Eagle Plaza will meet both of these needs – for a new public green space and for an area that celebrates Folsom Gulch’s character in a indulgent way that’s inviting for all. We have been waiting for a project like this for a long time.”

The Bay Area Reporter first broke the news about the 13,800 square foot parklet proposal a year ago. It proposes to turn a block of 12th Street, between Harrison and Bernice, fronting the gay-owned Eagle bar into a parklet with design elements celebrating SOMA’s ties to both the LGBT and leather communities.

Since the 1950s the neighborhood has been home to a number of gay bars and nightclubs, many catering to the leather scene. Today, most of the remaining LGBT nightlife establishments are centered on or near 11th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets, with the Eagle a block away.

A rendering of how a block of 12th Street would be rebuilt as a pedestrian plaza. Courtesy Build, Inc.

A rendering of how a block of 12th Street would be rebuilt as a pedestrian plaza. Courtesy Build, Inc.

The city has designated that section of western SOMA as part of an LGBTQ cultural heritage district. Backers of the Eagle Plaza contend it could serve as a focal point and main gathering spot for the LGBTQ district.

In September the Eastern Neighborhoods Citizen’s Advisory Committee gave its approval to the plaza plan. Local development firm Build Inc. has proposed paying for construction of the plaza as part of a $1.5 million in-kind agreement with the city related to the construction of its mixed-use development to be built across the street from the Eagle on what is now a surface parking lot at 1532 Harrison Street.

That project won approval in October and consists of a new seven-story 65-foot tall, mixed-use building with 136 dwelling units and about 1,600 square feet of ground floor commercial space that would open out onto the plaza at Harrison.

A rendering from above what the new parklet would look like, including a new "porch" seating area in front of the gay Eagle bar. Courtesy Build, Inc.

A rendering from above of what the new Eagle Plaza would look like, including a new “porch” seating area in front of the gay Eagle bar. Courtesy Build, Inc.

The block-long Eagle Plaza would maintain a single lane of south bound traffic defined by a series of fixed planters. According to the planning staff report, the plaza design would allow for vehicle through traffic, but also enable the lane to be closed for special events.

Other features of the plaza include a new bulb-out occupying the width of 12th Street extending into Harrison Street; café seats and additional movable seating; landscaping in raised planters; space for food and other kiosks, and pedestrian-scale plaza lighting.

Build Inc. has agreed to pay for all ongoing maintenance, operation and programming of the plaza in perpetuity through the establishment of a Mello Roos District. According to the planning report, the develop is currently targeting the subject development and the development site immediately north, and the Eagle Tavern, as the boundaries for the district, whose members would pay an annual tax specifically for the cost to upkeep the plaza.

The Eagle bar owners have been vocal supporters of the plaza project. To date, the planning department has received more than 200 letters in support and no opposition to the project.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 5, 2016 @ 7:46 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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