Presidio of San Francisco (December 3, 2013) — The Presidio’s longest term residents, Marc Kasky and his wife Cat Carr, recently marked their 18th year in the Presidio. Kasky and Carr took an early chance on the Presidio’s former Army housing when the National Park Service took over its management in 1994. Today, the Presidio Trust manages the Presidio and is landlord to 3,000 residents who live in 21 neighborhoods.
Now in high demand, much of the Presidio’s housing was vacant and in need of repair when the Army left in 1994. “People have always been the soul of the Presidio,” said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director, “With the Army’s departure in 1994, the daily activity here dramatically declined. The buildings were vacant, the streets quiet, and the vitality diminished.”
Company Officer’s family quarters on Funston Avenue was built in 1889. Funston Avenue — known as “Officers’ Row” — is the oldest intact streetscape in San Francisco and one of the park’s most iconic places.
As Kasky remembers it, the Presidio was a wilder, quieter place eighteen years ago. “It was just like living in the country for the first several years,” Kasky recalls. Coyotes, skunks, raccoons, and blue herons were their only neighbors. “Occasionally, the street lights would not work at night, and that was fabulous — to walk outside in San Francisco and be in the dark?”
In 1996, Congress created the Presidio Trust, an innovative federal agency tasked with stewarding the Presidio’s transformation. The Trust and its partners then began carrying out the complex tasks of environmental remediation, restoration, and historic preservation. The Trust recognized the importance of attracting a thriving residential community back to the Presidio and rehabilitation of the residential units started immediately. The John Stewart Company took over property management responsibilities in 1998 and began leasing homes to members of the general public, with a preference given to people working full time in the park. The last military household moved out of the Presidio in September of 2012.
The couple has long welcomed friends and curious visitors into their home, and they have hosted hundreds of functions. They opened their doors to 700 guests during a day-long open house that the Presidio Trust organized to allow the public to view the inside of the Funston Avenue buildings.
Kasky and Carr readily express gratitude for the singular opportunity to live in America’s premier urban national park. The Presidio, for its part, benefits from the energy and ideals that tenants bring to the place. And each tenant plays a concrete role: residential rental income makes up the largest share of the Presidio Trust’s operating budget. In 2013, the Presidio achieved a milestone set by Congress at its inception, becoming financially self-sufficient. By choosing to live in the park, residents directly sustain the programs and developments that benefit the public.
Kasky and Carr only expected to stay in the house on Funston Avenue for a year or two, but eighteen years later, they have made it their home, and an expression of their core values. “I like to see places converted from abandoned or under-used, into something that serves people — that enhances the quality of life, for people who live, work, and visit,” Kasky says.
As the Presidio Trust has become financially self-sufficient, it has defined a three-fold mission for its next phase of development: to welcome the public, create broad impact, and steward the Presidio. Kasky, Carr, and the 3,000 people that come home to the Presidio are an integral part of that mission, and the Presidio benefits from their continual contributions.
About the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust, a federal agency, is an innovation in the management of a treasured American place. The Trust was created to save the Presidio and transform it for a new national purpose. The Trust’s vision is that the Presidio will be forever a public place: vital to the Bay Area, important to all Americans, and recognized for achieving broad benefits for the nation. Today, the Presidio welcomes visitors, is home to a vibrant community of residents and tenants, and inspires greater good through programs that draw on its history and natural resources. The Presidio Trust serves the public with events, lodging, venues, and recreational opportunities.