Downtown News and Blog

Urban Exploration: San Francisco - Day 1

May 20, 2016 Written by

Published in Downtown News and Blog

The Downtown Alliance can learn from the successes of other neighborhoods and downtowns throughout the country. The Urban Exploration program brings public and private sector leaders together to learn about the best practices of other cities. This is the third in a series of annual trips sponsored by the Downtown Alliance to build relationships and learn from the success of other communities.

The Urban Exploration program is a working trip focused on building relationships and inspiring innovation in downtown Salt Lake City. We are currently working to strategically select projects in the bay area that correlate to emerging initiatives and issues in downtown Salt Lake City. This year's urban exploration participants will learn about downtown San Francisco's startup scene and culture of entrepreneurship, food based economy, redevelopment projects and arts and cultural initiatives.

This is the third in a series of annual trips sponsored by the Downtown Alliance to build relationships and learn from the success of other communities: we visited New York in 2014 and Chicago in 2015.

Public Investment at the Neighborhood Level
We started the day off with a breakfast panel that focused on public investment at the neighborhood level. We were joined by Juan Carlos Cancino (Program Manager of Office and Economic and Workforce Development), Jorge Rivas ( Project Manager, Invest In Neighborhoods) and Marsha Murrington (Director of Economic Development, LISC) to demonstrate how they’ve harnessed new public and private investment across targeted neighborhoods in San Francisco. This forum provided our participants with critical insight on how these neighborhood transformations have occurred.

One standout example the panel pointed to was the important role law enforcement has played in these neighborhoods, and emphasized how securing funding , as well as specially trained officers has helped to secure these previously troubled pockets of the city.

Our conversation also had other applicable moments to Salt Lake, such as the need for affordable housing and long-term affordability, the role of community partners such as the Boys and Girls Club and advocating for small businesses.
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Ferry Building Redevelopment Tour:
After the breakfast panel, our group departed for the iconic Ferry Building to learn about how the city turned this area from a freeway and industrial coastline to a revitalized cultural and epicurean destination. The tour began at the Ferry Building Marketplace that featured a certified farmers market of local farmers, artisan producers and independently owned and operated food businesses. The building also features 175,000 square feet of Class A office space that many innovative companies utilize, which in turn underwrites the cost for food producers to rent space in the building. The tour was lead by CUESA’s (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) Executive Director, Marcy Coburn.

As we begin thinking about a year-round Public Market in the Rio Grande neighborhood, learning how San Francisco built a market, worked with food producers and drove foot traffic was key.
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Pavement to Parks - Redefining Public Space:
One group explored the “Pavement to Parks” program that seeks to utilize the streets and public right-of-ways in San Francisco that make up about 25% of the city’s land area; more space than all the public parks combined. The Pavement to Parks program uses projects like parklets to quickly and inexpensively convert these otherwise underutilized spaces into welcoming pedestrian spaces. Many local coffee shops and small retailers sponsor a parklet, which is open to all members of the public, as well their customers to use.

The Downtown Garden Stroll in Salt Lake is similar in many ways, however, Salt Lake has much wider sidewalks, making for an ideal home for these small parks, without losing any on-street parking. The goal of these parks is to encourage public use of outdoor space.

Urban Placeholders in Hayes Valley: Temporary Retail and Activation
Hayes Valley is a San Francisco neighborhood that is at the forefront of the city’s residential development boom. Once covered by freeways, the area has come to prominence in the wake of the 1989 earthquake through collaboration between the City and the neighborhood. While the Hayes Valley neighborhood is a hot residential development area, it is also home to a temporary project: Proxy.

A placeholder for a more permanent building, Proxy is a temporary two-block construct that imagines a vibrant focal point for commerce and community. The project was conceived in relation to the realization that, due to the economic downturn, several City owned development sites would be left undeveloped for several years. Originally envisioned with a lifespan of two to three years, Proxy is now a temporary retail, restaurant, art gallery, garden and community gathering space that adds richness and diversity to the Hayes Valley. Our tour was led by Douglas Burnham, Principal and Founder of Envelop Architecture and Design and the mastermind behind the Proxy project.
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Google Fiber Reception @ Trou Normand
It's no secret that Google Fiber is coming to SLC. To learn more about the rollout, we dined with the Google Fiber team and heard from Michael Slinger who is the Director of Business Operations. He spoke on the future of Fiber, competition in the marketplace and the digital divide that they seek to close.
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