Assemblymember Phil Ting brought home the bacon Tuesday, announcing $6 million in state funding to revitalize Japantown Peace Plaza, which hasn’t seen an upgrade in 20 years.
Japantown Peace Plaza is a vibrant community space that hosts some of San Francisco’s favorite events — during maybe, like, four or five weekends a year. Otherwise, not so much. The decline of the one-time tourist destination could be pegged on a few things; the slow death-march of multiplex theaters has made the Kabuki Theater much less of a draw, the Japan Center mall is losing tenants thanks to a landlord monopoly, and the crown jewel Japantown Peace Plaza has not been renovated or upgraded in more than 20 years.
Thank you Assemblymember @PhilTing for supporting the Japantown Peace Plaza project by allocating an additional $6 million in state funding for it! Learn more here: https://t.co/zJYX9RBcxJ pic.twitter.com/o0dFB3qljf— San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (@RecParkSF) September 20, 2022
But Peace Plaza is being renovated now, and KRON4 reports Assemblymember Phil Ting was there today to announce $6 million in state funding for the redesign.
“After decades of neglect, the Peace Plaza will finally see improvements, which will also help revitalize Japantown by attracting visitors to support small businesses and fostering cultural relations,” Ting said in a press release. “The work includes waterproofing and paving, as well as beautifying the space with plants, lighting and seating so it can serve as an essential location for festivals, celebrations and historic commemorations.”
You can see the plans above for the new Japantown Peace Plaza in the video above. According to Rec and Parks (who officially own the plaza land), “The renovated plaza will have all new features: new paving (over new waterproofing), planting, informal seating, and maintain the highly used, central gathering space for cultural events.”
The plaza has been around since 1968, and was part of a larger Western Addition redevelopment that ultimately did more to drive out Japanese-Americans than to bring them in. It has always had drainage issues with the parking lot below. DPW redesigned the plaza in 2001, without much real input from the Japantown community. The new redesign hopes ton change that, and has incorporated more elements from community feedback.
That feedback period is scheduled to continue through next year when a final design is completed in late 2023. Construction is expected to begin in early 2024.