Amid lawsuit threats and much hemming and hawing from local businesses, Muni chief Ed Reiskin has a new proposal for the Central Subway. Rather than opening up the subway tunnel at the Chinatown end to roll its drilling equipment above ground, thereby disrupting a large segment of Columbus Avenue near Washington Square Park, Reiskin is now suggesting that they extend the tunnel and build an underground North Beach terminus after all.

The new North Beach Station would be at Powell and Columbus, bringing trains to the heart of the neighborhood past the previously proposed endpoint at Washington and Stockton. Reiskin proposes that the city purchase the long vacant Pagoda Theater property — which was briefly the proposed site of a condo development and Mexican restaurant, and caused a great deal of controversy several years back — to demolish it and use it for the eventual North Beach Station.

As Matier & Ross are reporting, a number of nearby business owners are cautiously relieved about the new plan, which means that their griping has been heard, and the logical next step for the subway — getting from Chinatown to North Beach, below ground — will be realized sooner rather than later. But whether this extension of the project can actually happen is going to depend on Muni and the city coming with more money, beginning with $8 million to purchase the Pagoda. Stay tuned to see if that happens.


All previous Central Subway coverage on SFist.