Hearst Corp Backs Off Bid to Tear Out Annie Alley Street Plaza
The Hearst Corporation has withdrawn its appeal against the Annie Alley street plaza [PDF] after talks with city planners and the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.
The bid to get the plaza torn out was surprising, since Hearst had been involved in creating the plaza, leading to speculation that closing the alley to cars had irked executives at the company.
“We withdrew the appeal based on the positive discussions we have been having with YBCBD and other stakeholders to assess the situation and make improvements,” said Marty Cepkauskas, director of real estate for Hearst Western Properties.
The plaza is safe at least until its permit renewal comes up in August, according to Robin Abad Ocubillo, project manager for the Planning Department’s Pavement to Parks program. Ocubillo said Hearst agreed to support the project “as long as there is follow-up traffic monitoring,” though that “was always part of the plan.” Hearst and YBCBD will also assess whether they need someone to direct traffic during rush hour at Jessie and New Montgomery Streets, one of the exits still available to drivers leaving the Hearst Building parking garage.
“We’re pleased that the appeal was withdrawn and we look forward to continuing our conversations with Hearst,” said Andrew Robinson, YBCBD’s director of neighborhood partnerships. “Because this project is a pilot program, neighborhood feedback is important to its long-term success.”
Robinson said YBCBD can now focus on “testing Annie Street Plaza as a great place for art, performance, music and other programming to create a vibrant place for the neighborhood as it was envisioned by the community.”
The YBCBD is calling for artists and musicians who want to perform on the plaza to reach out through the organization’s website.