Another piece of Presidio’s transformation coming together

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe Presidio Trust plans to route Doyle Drive traffic through two tunnels underneath new park space.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe Presidio Trust plans to route Doyle Drive traffic through two tunnels underneath new park space.

The southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge will be completely transformed when it’s completed in 2015, and with it will come a new look for The City’s northern waterfront.

The rebuild of Doyle Drive is bringing new parkland and pedestrian access between Crissy Field and the Main Post of the Presidio, a former Army base. The seismically unsafe roadway is being replaced by a pair of tunnels, and they will be covered with greenery.

“It’s always been a goal to connect mid-Crissy Field with the Main Post, but until Doyle Drive happened there was no physical way of doing it,” said Tia Lombardi, director of cultural affairs and community development for the Presidio Trust, a federal agency that manages the park. “The bluff on top of the tunnels is a visual and physical connection creating a visitor destination.”

The overall project will help restore 10 acres of lost parkland and give the trust the ability to restore an additional section of wetlands, according to spokeswoman Dana Polk.

In the backdrop of the green space is the commissary building, a former grocery store for military families. It now houses the Sports Basement store, which has agreed to move down the street and occupy former military warehouse buildings.

Lombardi said the trust has long wanted to make the commissary a cultural destination.

As many as 16 ideas to transform the space were submitted last month, including the heavily publicized cultural museum by iconic filmmaker George Lucas; the filmmaker’s former company Lucasfilm is located in the Presidio.

A proposal from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy had the most detailed concept incorporating the future green space. That proposal promotes use of the bike and footpaths connecting the building to the Main Post, where the Disney Museum is located, along with incorporating views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Each proposal will be discussed at a public hearing Tuesday.

After that, according to Lombardi, the 16 proposals will be whittled down to a smaller number in May. Then the Presidio Trust will request more detailed plans on the remaining proposals, to be submitted by fall. Because the area is a National Historic Landmark District, environmental and historic impact reviews must be completed before plans can be approved.

It will be at least another year before construction can begin on whichever proposal is selected, Lombardi said
Once completed, the commissary building and the new green space will be another step in the Presidio Trust’s master plan to make the park more accessible. The west side of Crissy Field has already been revamped, with a climbing gym, trampoline gym and indoor swimming pools.

“Mid-Crissy was a big missing piece,” Lombardi said. “With this last section, it will transform the landscape.”

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