Recreation and Park Commission to vote on final approval for Coit Tower vendor lease 

Coit Tower
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • A new vendor may soon be managing the visitor experience at Coit Tower.
More than two years after the city Recreation and Park Department first released a request for a new vendor to handle operations at the historic Coit Tower, its commission today will consider giving the final green light to a new vendor it expects will help transform the visitor experience.

The focus of the five-year lease that Anchor Oyster Bar owner Terry Grimm has already been chosen for was to improve the gift shop and add a “museum” quality that the previous vendor was not providing at the mural-lined landmark, said department spokeswoman Sarah Ballard.

An option to allow private events at the tower has been scrapped and discussions around another controversial aspect — food and beverage service — have been put off for a later date so Grimm can open his operation by mid-April, when the tower is slated to reopen following a $1.7 million renovation.

“From the beginning of scoping the [request for proposals], it had been clear that finding the appropriate location to sell food and beverage is going to be a balancing act,” Ballard said.

Jon Golinger, chairman of the group Protect Coit Tower that opposed both the private events and food service proposals, said he is pleased with the lease details being considered today. “They’ve taken the most controversial things off the table,” he said. “That’s smart.”

There is no deadline to iron out the food and beverage vending details, Ballard said. Under the former vendor, who was on a month-to-month lease for a decade, the department received $748,362 per year. With the new vendor, the department expects an additional $563,412. Another change from the past is that 1 percent of the money generated — approximately $10,000 to $15,000 — will be dedicated to mural preservation.

If Rec and Park commissioners approve the lease to Grimm, the agreement, which has one three-year option to extend, next goes to a committee of the Board of Supervisors in early February and the full board later that month.

As for progress on the renovation that started in November, it remains on schedule, Ballard said. Golinger and others in previous meetings had called for a partial reopening while construction continues.

“It’s not possible given the scope of the project and safety, and all of that,” Ballard said.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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