Powell Street Promenade Taking Shape, Ribbon-Cutting Set for Wednesday

The promenade is being installed in former yellow zone parking lanes. Photos: Bryan Goebel

The Powell Street Promenade, billed as the marquee project of San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program, is starting to take shape along two blocks of Powell Street near Union Square, and will be officially unveiled to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Ed Lee on Wednesday.

Crews, who plan to work through the weekend, erected temporary fences along the sidewalks on Powell Street between Ellis and Geary and posted signs that say, “We’re expanding the walkway to enhance your walking and shopping experience. Please be patient while the installation is taking place.”  The narrow, congested sidewalks on this section Powell Street are packed with high pedestrian volumes second only to Times Square. More than 100,000 pedestrians visit this stretch on an average weekend.

Since the Golden Wheel Award-winning “mega-parklet” project was announced late last year, the design has been improved to allow for more pedestrian circulation space. Gone is the idea in the original rendering of lining the edge with a wooden bench. Instead of mostly wood material, the six-foot wide promenade will feature street furniture comprised of twisted metal (see the rendering below the break). The parklets will also be lined with metal rails, and aluminum grates will serve as platforms, along with a few wooden ones for warmth.

Creeping figs and formium are among the ground-level greenery that will be planted in the parklets, which will offer free wifi and allow plenty of places for people to relax, eat and enjoy the area. The lighting will be powered by solar panels.

An artist's rendering of the project courtesy of the Great Streets Project.

We’re told that excited businesses have become strong advocates of the promenade, and have been very good about working together and rearranging their deliveries and schedules. As a compromise with businesses, including four hotels, the parklet platforms will be divided by two 50-foot loading bays in the center of each block.

The much-needed face lift could be a taste of what’s to come in 2014, when Powell Street is scheduled for a cable car overhaul and repaving. There’s long been talk of pedestrianizing that portion of Powell, similar to the block where the cable car turnaround is located between Ellis and Market Street.

As we’ve reported, the promenade is sponsored by the automobile company, Audi, but there will be no advertising allowed on the sight, and the only mention of Audi will be in the permanent plaques placed at the location. The total cost for construction of the project is about $890,000, all paid by Audi.

We’ll have more coverage next week.


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