$10 Million park renovation set to breathe new life into Civic Center

Two newly renovated playgrounds in San Francisco’s Civic Center are at the heart of a multi-pronged initiative to clean up the city center.

The Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds reopened today after a year-long, $10 million renovation with new slides, a treehouse structure for kids to climb on and small cloud-like playhouses along with an interactive floor light display.

The two playgrounds sit next to each other in front of City Hall with the country’s largest interactive light display sandwiched between the two.

The North and South parks were originally built in 1994 and 1998, respectively. Nearly two decades later, The City accepted a $10 million donation from The Helen Diller Family Foundation through The Trust for Public Land to design and construct the renovations.

The Foundation also paid an additional $1 million for a kiosk to host a street cafe on the corner of Grove and Larkin Streets that will be operated by San Francisco’s Bi-Rite grocery. The street cafe is expected to open this summer.

More than 2,000 new households are expected to be added around the Civic Center area by 2040, according to a projection from The City’s Planning Department. That population growth will increase the demand for parks and playgrounds.

“These new state-of-the-art playgrounds and street café will serve the growing families in the densely populated Civic Center and Tenderloin neighborhoods,” Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Recreation and Parks General Manager, said in a statement.

The renovation is part of the Civic Center Commons Initiative which is intended to “breathe new life” into the Tenderloin. The initiative also includes plans to host free events in the Civic Center to draw more foot traffic and increase law enforcement in the area.

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