Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Good Day For Alleys

There's a couple pieces of good news in between all the bitchy comments over at Curbed!

The first concerns a parking lot at 17th and Folsom, behind the old Joseph Schmidt chocolate factory (thanks, HersheyCo!). This expanse of asphalt has, according to Curbed, apparently been planned for a park for some time.

It's a great location, in part, because of the selection of trees that line it. According to Mike Sullivan in The Trees of San Francisco:
... the parking lot ... is surrounded in an alternating pattern by several types of trees that are very rare in San Francisco, including Floss Silk Trees (Chorisia speciosa 'Majestic Beauty'), with thorns on the trunk; Flame Trees (Brachychiton acerifolius), with large, lobed leaves resembling fig leaves; Bottle Trees (Brachychiton populneus), with smaller leaves and a large trunk at the base; and Mountain She-Oaks (Casuarina stricta), with long, pinelike needles.
Plus it's just a huge lot that gets tons of sun.

Curbed reports that the Northern Half will eventually become affordable housing, which is also great. Check out some proposed plans at Curbed for yourself.

I live near this site and for a long time it's seemed to me this undeveloped space is a rare opportunity to increase the connectivity of the street grid by adding a mid-block alley. The city's Mission Streetscape Plan identifies existing alleys in the area as a benefit to the community, and I would like to expand on that by adding new alleys wherever possible.

The new alley on this site could be as simple as a pedestrian walkway along its Northern edge that's not fenced off at night when the park is closed. Or the housing planned for the Northern half could include a fully alley along the old factory. That would allow front and rear entrances for its units and create a new, intimate space for life in the Mission.

The second news piece describes improvements that the Redevelopment Agency is planning for the alley network around 6th and Howard. If you've never walked down Natoma or Minna, do yourself a favor and take the detour next time you're South of Market.

The proposed improvements look great, but I have to wonder why that block of Russ Street needs to be kept so wide (don't say parking, son't say parking...).

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