A leather-themed public plaza would be built on the roadway outside the Eagle bar in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood under a proposal backed by the developer of a new mixed-use housing and retail development.
The plan would turn a block of 12th Street, between Harrison and Bernice, fronting the gay-owned bar into a parklet with design elements celebrating SOMA’s ties to both the LGBT and leather communities. Since the 1950s the neighborhood has been home to a number of gay bars and nightclubs, many catering to the leather scene.
Today, most of the remaining LGBT nightlife establishments are centered on or near 11th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets, with the Eagle a block away. The city has designated that section of western SOMA as part of an LGBTQ cultural heritage district.
Backers of what is being called the Eagle Plaza contend it could serve as a focal point and main gathering spot for the LGBTQ district.
“I am super excited about it. I think it is beautiful,” said District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, whose office has been involved in the initial talks about the proposed plaza.
Design ideas for the parklet run the gamut from using the colors of the leather flag, which are blue, black, white, and red, for decorative pavers and the color scheme of a mini-deck area near the bar’s entrance on 12th Street to relocating onto the plaza the large flag pole the Eagle owners erected in the bar’s outdoor area during Leather Week in 2013 in order to fly the leather flag after Castro business leaders that year ended the annual tradition of raising the flag at Harvey Milk Plaza.
Preliminary designs show that a traffic lane could be maintained on 12th Street, for use either by nearby residents or emergency vehicles. Modular units like benches and tree planters could be used to close off the lane on weekends or during community events in the plaza.
Drawings posted on a website for the Eagle Plaza feature spots for food trucks, tables and chairs, and seating units modeled after bar benches and jungle gyms.
Even though the parklet would result in the loss of about 15 parking spaces, the owners of the Eagle have been early backers of the proposed plaza plan.
“There is a lack of public space like this in this area. It is very much needed,” said Alex Montiel, a co-owner of the bar. “Something like this is very much needed for anybody who lives around here. There are no parks nearby.”
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