Coit Tower to close for renovations beginning November 18

A “start of construction” sign for the temporary closure of Coit Tower was posted by The City’s Recreation and Park Department on Thursday, four days before renovations will begin.

The iconic tower is undergoing the most extensive effort to repair water leakage that has damaged the New Deal-era interior murals since it opened 80 years ago. When renovations are complete — scheduled for mid-April — the public may also notice new vendors operating the elevator, gift shop and a mobile food cart.

Vincent Lo, 33, general manager of the current concessions his family has operated since 1992, said their remaining days as operator are “bittersweet.”

“Ninety percent of calls in the last two weeks have been people asking if we’re still open,” he said. “Outreach was kind of poor. People already assume we’re closed because it says on the [Recreation and Park] website sometime in November.”

While the notice with the exact date went up only days before the tower closes at the end of Sunday, the Recreation and Park Commission announced the landmark would shut its doors in mid-November after it awarded the $1.1 million contract on Oct. 17.

On Nov. 7, the operations committee chose Terry Grimm, who owns Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro, as the bid winner to take over the elevator, gift shop and food operation. On Nov. 21, the full commission will decide whether to award the lease to Grimm, but more than a dozen Telegraph Hill residents and department officials gathered at the tower Thursday to survey the scene.

Their primary concern was the proposed location of the mobile food cart on the concrete outside the south side of the tower. After the discussion, commission President Mark Buell said they agreed on one thing — that the new concessionaire would be an improvement.

Lo said his family once sold hot dogs and pretzels but scaled down to pre-packaged snacks when their lease became been month-to-month about five years ago. They won bids early on, but finally decided they had made the most of the operation.

When the tower closes Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Lo said, “We’ve got to find the last customer so we can take a picture and say, ‘Hey, this was the last person.’”

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