Press Release: Supervisors Christensen and Wiener Initiate Process to Purchase Pagoda Theater Site for North Beach Subway Station

With co-sponsorship from Supervisor Scott Wiener, Supervisor Christensen directs city Department of Real Estate to appraise the value of the site as a first step toward city purchase of the site for a future North Beach subway station as part of the Central Subway

Supervisor Julie Christensen, with co-sponsorship from Supervisor Scott Wiener, has initiated the process for the City of San Francisco to purchase the site of the former Pagoda Theater to use as a future North Beach station on the Central Subway line. Supervisors Christensen and Wiener have directed the Department of Real Estate to appraise the site, so that the City can enter into negotiations with the property owner.

As a long-time neighborhood advocate for the Central Subway, Supervisor Christensen understands the importance of extending the Central Subway to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. Since becoming Supervisor for District 3 in January, Supervisor Christensen — building on the work of her predecessor, Assemblyman David Chiu — has been exploring options for purchasing the Pagoda Theater site to continue the expansion of the Central Subway through the district, and has made many attempts to discuss the purchase of this site from the property owner. The owners of the former Pagoda Theater site have pulled permits to build a development with 19 luxury condos over a large restaurant space.

“With many years of planning and discussion, it is time for the city to move forward to explore purchasing the site for a future subway station,” stated Supervisor Christensen. “Losing this site for a proposed luxury condo project, without first exploring options to purchase the property, would be an enormous loss for the neighborhood and the City. By taking this step, we can then begin good faith negotiations with the owner to purchase the property so that we can bring the Central Subway to North Beach and beyond.”

Supervisor Wiener added: “San Francisco needs more subways, and extending the Central Subway north is a key part of expanding our inadequate subway network. We need to be visionary and aggressive in planning for our transportation future, particularly given San Francisco’s terrible and worsening traffic congestion. The Pagoda Theater is a critical site, and the city needs to get it together and purchase it. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and let this opportunity to purchase the site slip away. I’m excited that Supervisor Christensen is showing bold leadership. ”

Supervisors Wiener and Christensen are co-authoring legislation to require the creation of a Subway Master Plan for San Francisco, and extending the Central Subway north is very likely to be a key part of that planning process.

The Central Subway, which will open in 2019, currently will begin at 4th and King Streets and extend north to Chinatown, at Stockton and Washington Streets. When the Central Subway opens as part of the T line, the T line will immediately become the highest ridership light rail vehicle line, surpassing even the N Judah. When the Municipal Transportation Agency bored the subway tunnel, it extended the tunnel north to the old Pagoda Theater site on Columbus Avenue in North Beach. Purchasing this site for a future subway station would facilitate extending subway service to North Beach and, eventually, north to Fisherman’s Wharf. Utilization of the Pagoda site would also minimize disruption to the neighborhood, given that the tunnel connects directly to the Pagoda Theater.