Music Concourse rebuild hits crescendo

The $12 million restoration saga of the historic Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park will culminate with the reopening and 110th birthday bash Friday.

The concourse has been under construction since 2005, and for the better portion of the past year the iconic link between the de Young Museum and California Academy of Sciences was wrapped with a chain-link fence while workers fixed several unexpected and expensive problems with a century-old drainage system beneath four fountains.

Aquatics Environments, a Concord-based construction company with a $1.1 million contract paid for through a state bond, was initially hired to have the fountains flowing by May. But the project became more extensive in April and the Recreation and Park Department ordered the reworking of the entire water system.

“We thought, ‘It doesn’t make sense to restore them and have water puddling up,’” said Project Manager Rick Thall of the Recreation and Park Department. “We thought, ‘We’re in here, we should do this work now as well.’”

The firm excavated around an old high-pressure water-delivery fire-protection line, costing Rec and Park an additional $400,000 of The City’s reserve that helps pay for Proposition 40 projects.

It was not the first time the aging structures posed unexpected and costly problems.

In 2005, pieces of the sandstone band shell fell from the ceiling during a $9 million project to make the area more pedestrian-accessible. About $7 million of that money came from Prop. 40 and the remainder from private and other state funding sources.

The band shell closed for a year while Rec and Park wrapped it in plastic to keep it from shedding and causing hazards. It was then wrapped, but open, until 2008, when Rec and Park secured another $1.6 million — half from Prop. 40 and about $600,000 from a city bond to benefit Golden Gate Park — to reroof and seal it.

“We knew it would happen. The entire infrastructure had not been rebuilt. There was no question,” said Ron Miguel, who sat on the concourses authority board before joining the Planning Commission in 2008. “There shouldn’t have been any surprises except maybe the cost.”

After Friday’s event, The City’s first historic landscape, built for the California Midwinter Exhibition of 1894, will again help rejuvenate the area visited by hundreds of thousands every year, just with a more modern twist. The reopening party starts at 9:30 a.m.

“The only exhibits that actually remain [from 1894] are the plaques down there in the concourse with the site furnishing,” Thall said. “It’s nice to get the fountains as the final piece. I mean, water activates the space. The sound of water is really going to be amazing.”
 
kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

 

Years of work fulfilled

2005
– Music Concourse closes for a year for restoration; band shell ceiling starts falling
– Band shell closes for plastic wrapping to secure falling sandstone

2008
– Construction starts on cracked sandstone of band shell

2010
– Recreation and Park Department restores fountains

 

New life for park space

A $12 million tab to renovate the Music Concourse mostly comes from Proposition 40, a state bond to benefit clean and safe parks. The concourse is the largest Prop. 40 project so far.

Band shell
Cost:
$1,615,800 
Work done: Historic stone restoration and reroofing; decorative stone features had failed and area below band shell was closed to public

Music Concourse fountains
Cost:
$1,535,000
Work done: Historic restoration of four fountains

Music Concourse site furnishings
Cost:
$815,000
Work done: Installation of site furnishings beyond budget of the concourse renovation project; included light fixtures, bike racks, drinking fountains, historic bollard and chain, interpretive signs, trash receptacles

Music Concourse restoration
Cost:
$9,030,000
Work done: Renovation eliminated 3 acres of paving, created more pedestrian-accessible space, historically restored the concourse

Source: Recreation and Park Department

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