Presidio of San Francisco (February 26, 2009) — The Presidio Trust today released three draft compliance documents that describe and analyze the “preferred alternative” for revitalizing the Main Post as the cultural and civic center of the Presidio of San Francisco, a unique urban national park. The preferred alternative includes a museum of contemporary art, a park lodge, and a center for Presidio heritage and archaeology. The Trust first described the “preferred alternative” at a public meeting of the Trust Board of Directors on December 9, 2008.
Earlier drafts of the compliance documents released in June 2008 identified a “proposed action” which described projects as they had been initially proposed. The “preferred alternative” presented in the current documents responds to concerns expressed by the National Park Service and consulting historic preservation agencies about the effect of new construction on the historic park. The “preferred alternative” reduces the amount of new construction and requires that much of the new construction of the art museum be built underground.
The State Historic Preservation Office and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation also had input in developing the strategies that would reduce the impacts on the historic post. The three agencies – the NPS, SHPO, and ACHP – have worked closely with the Trust, project proponents, and members of the public with the objective of developing projects that can both revitalize the Main Post and preserve its historic value.
The draft documents include a revised draft of the Main Post Update, which updates the planning concept for the Main Post district that was presented in the 2002 Presidio Trust Management Plan (PTMP). Also included is a revised draft Finding of Effect (FOE) which presents an analysis of potential impacts on historic resources. Finally, the Trust has developed a draft supplement to the draft SEIS which analyzes the potential impacts of the preferred alternative on the environment. Together the three documents offer the public the information about the historic and planning context for the Main Post projects, as well as an analysis of potential impacts to the environment and to historic resources.
Documents are available in the Presidio Trust library and online at. Copies will be available upon request at the Trust offices and at local libraries by March 3.
The Presidio Trust is a federal agency and therefore conducts its project review and compliance under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), both of which include extensive public participation. Since the beginning of the process in December 2007, the Presidio Trust has conducted more than 30 public meetings and workshops; has led public tours of the Main Post; and has met with diverse community and civic groups.
To ensure the public has ample opportunity to consider the documents, the Presidio Trust will host two 90-minute public comment sessions during a 45-day official comment period, which begins on March 6 and ends on April 20. The two public meetings will be held on Wednesday, April 1 at 8:30 am and Thursday, April 16 at 6:00 pm at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio. The Presidio Trust Board of Directors will also hold a public board meeting on April 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Presidio Officers’ Club.
The public is encouraged to attend, ask questions and provide comments. Additionally, the Trust will host a series of “open house” events every Friday and Saturday throughout the comment period from 10 am to noon in Building 105 on the Main Post, beginning March 6. Trust staff will be available at the open houses to discuss the projects and to answer questions about the documents and the plans for the Main Post.
Of the many projects and improvements under consideration, one has engendered the most attention, the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio, or CAMP. On August 8, 2007, the Presidio Trust announced a proposal from the CAMP organization to build a museum that would house Doris and Don Fisher’s world-renowned collection of contemporary art. The Trust responded to the offer by issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for cultural institutions and visitor-serving uses in the Main Post. The RFP included both opportunities for new construction and re-use of the historic Montgomery Street Barracks, the stately red-brick buildings that form the western edge of the Main Parade Ground. The new construction site was identified as the area immediately south of the Main Parade Ground where a bowling center has sat since 1989. The Trust received two responses to the RFP: one from the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio (CAMP) and one from the Presidio Historical Association (PHA) for The History Center at the Golden Gate.
In January 2008, the Trust announced that it would proceed with the CAMP proposal, subject to environmental review under NEPA and Section 106 consultation under NHPA. The Trust declined to entertain the PHA proposal because although it put forth a programmatic vision, it did not include a collection or a source of funding.
In September 2006, the Trust issued an RFP for lodging that also included an opportunity for new construction and reuse of an historic building. On October 15, 2007, the Trust announced that it would proceed with Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants as its development partner for lodging in the Main Post.
In response to the public’s request that the Trust provide a comprehensive analysis of the Main Post, the Trust announced on October 29, 2007 that it would undertake an update to the 2002 PTMP and would discontinue efforts to analyze the lodge and the museum project separately. A draft Main Post Update was issued in June 2008 along with the draft SEIS.
The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to oversee the Presidio of San Francisco, an urban national park located at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains expansive open space and spectacular views, a 300-acre historic forest, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It also comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.”