Trust considers new use for Presidio’s Main Post

Planners envision spot for growing community to gather

A plan to revamp the Presidio’s Main Post could give the historic national park a central gathering place.

The area, which today is mostly known for its large parking lots and three parade grounds, is being looked at for its potentialby the Presidio Trust, a government agency created by Congress to preserve and enhance the Presidio since it was decommissioned.

“The idea is to re-create the center of the Main Post that isn’t just a parking lot like it is now … but as a public space,” Executive Director Craig Middleton said. “We are looking for life.”

The Presidio is the largest historic preservation site in the country, according to Middleton. Since 1998, the trust has restored 1 million square feet of the park, excluding the Letterman Digital Arts Center. One-third of that renovation has been housing and more than 95 percent of the space is occupied with long waiting lists, according to Middleton. The Presidio Trust is trying to create an area where those residents, along with people from across the Bay Area, can congregate and relax.

The trust would like to pave over parts of the parking lots to make them more “green,” and restore some of the historic buildings in the area and reopen them as museums, restaurants and cafes. Middleton said the trust has been successful at replacing parking spots lost to construction. He said the trust is also planning to expand its free natural-gas PresidiGo shuttle service to help ease traffic in the park.

The plans for the Main Post are still in their design phase and won’t be completed until April 2007. The Presidio Trust plans to hold a series of public forums to get feedback on the project beginning in November. It is not known how much the project would cost, but Middleton said parts of it would be dependent on philanthropic donations while future tenants would be expected to pay for the restoration of the historic buildings.

He said he is hopeful construction could start shortly after the design is completed next year and that it would take about 18 months to bring the vision to reality.

“I’m an optimist and I’d like to think we could break ground on construction in April or May,and I’ll stand by that,” he said.

sfarooq@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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