For a little over year, a shortcut on my daily commute led me to regularly travel down McCoppin Street. Hardly a day went by where I didn't bear witness to a drug deal or, at the very least, inadvertently take a deep breath full of that oh-so-fresh urine smell. It wasn't pretty, but it shaved a couple minutes off my trek between home and work so I didn't complain (much).
Now, the awkward cul-de-sack tucked under the intersection of Highway 101 and Market Street, is slated to become McCoppin Hub--a public plaza replete with green space and spots for a bevvy of food trucks, turning this oft-overlooked corner of San Francisco into the city's hippest new food court.
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The Department of Public Works, together with neighborhood groups, commissioned Boor Bridges Architects to come up with a proposal to revamp the street. Streetsblog reports:
The design residents seem to favor would include a “meandering path” and triangular spaces with grass and planters to sit on. Two lanes of open grass would flank the park, providing space for activities like farmer’s markets and the food trucks that have been activating the space every Saturday since last fall…Other improvements will add greening, traffic calming, and bike lanes along the rest of McCoppin Street and the alleyways adjoining it.
The renovation plan is part of the Department of Public Works' SoMa West Improvement Projects, which also include the creation of a skate park between Mission and Otis streets and a playground/dog park/basketball court complex between Valencia and Otis. These renovations have tentatively been in planning stages since 2005; however, the city only recently secured the funding needed to bring the projects off the page and into reality.
In recent months, a ring of food trucks feeding a gaggle of hungry customers has become a regular sight in the alley. The weekly food truck gathering Off the Grid used to hold all-day markets on McCoppin on Saturdays but scaled down to only offering lunch after parking trucks in one spot all day didn't prove economically viable.
After the severing of the Central Freeway and the creation of the beautiful-yet-problematic Octavia Boulevard, much of the traffic that used to go though Hayes Valley has since been diverted into neighborhood surrounding McCoppin.
In this marginal zone that lies roughly between 16th and Market streets and Valencia and Harrison streets -- especially in the untended parking lots underneath the freeways -- blight, crime, drug use and vagrancy have flourished simply because no one else wants to hang out breathing the fumes and listening to the roaring freeway beast.
Right now, it's a throwaway neighborhood surrounded by areas that encourage walking, bicycling and using public transportation.
The article depicts many in the McCoppin area as jealous of all the attention lavished on Hayes Valley in the years since the freeway's destruction. "We got screwed," said one resident. "They're Oz, and we're Kansas."
Check out this slideshow of pictures Streetsblog assembled showing McCoppin Street's past, present and future.
With this new effort, the McCoppin area may be due for a revival worthy of its trendy neighbor to the north.
Construction projects in the area are expected to begin this fall with construction on the McCoppin Hub slated for sometime next summer.
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