San Francisco firm donates $25M to Presidio project

October 1, 2013 3:21:22 PM PDT
One of the world's biggest construction and engineering firms is giving a major boost to the effort to re-develop the Presidio. San Francisco-based S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation is donating $25 million to help fund what's being called the "tunnel-top parkland."

The sidewalk along the historic buildings in San Francisco's Presidio appears to go all the way to the bay, but it doesn't. For decades, a freeway has separated the hills and trees of the Presidio from the meadows and marshes of Crissy Field. But that's about to change.

It will be the place that will be the centerpiece for the whole Presidio, I think," Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton said.

The Presidio Trust has long envisioned a 10-acre park built on top of the new tunnels that carry the new approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. It's land that once sat in the shadow of a crumbling elevated freeway.

But now, it's the freeway's turn to be in the shadows of a new national park, built on man-made bluffs with panoramic views of the golden gate. It's a $50 million project that's now half paid for.

Stephen Bechtel, the billionaire whose engineering firm built Hoover Dam and the Bay Bridge, is donating $25 million to build a park that finally joins the Presidio with Crissy Field.

Along with building the physical landscape, part of the gift will go to Crissy Field Center, which sits at the foot of the new parkland to help expand its programs for kids. The center moved to a temporary home by the beach during the road construction. Now, it plans to turn its original home into a new youth campus.

Work on the park could start sometime in 2016.

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