San Francisco Concourse demolition would create new housing but events would lose space 

The 125,000-square-foot Concourse Exhibition Center could soon give way to two six-story apartment buildings. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • The 125,000-square-foot Concourse Exhibition Center could soon give way to two six-story apartment buildings.

Foodies, crafters and artists will need to find a new home for their shows if a long-awaited project is approved today that would demolish one of the largest exhibition and convention spaces in the Bay Area to make way for apartments.

A former railway yard in what used to be The City’s industrial east side, the 125,000-square-foot Concourse Exhibition Center at Brannan and Eighth streets has played host to food and wine festivals, trade shows and craft fairs. The redevelopment plan calls for replacing it with two six-story apartment buildings, with another two buildings on nearby Rhode Island Street, for a total of 821 new units of rental housing. The ground floors would be retail space.

A spokesman for Archstone Development, which purchased the development rights from Bill Poland’s Bay West company, declined to comment. Poland has been trying to redevelop the site since at least 2000, but all development plans in the area were put on hold while The City changed development rules in a laborious process called the Eastern Neighborhood Plan.

If approved by the Planning Commission, demolition could begin as soon as next winter. Apartments could then be finished by 2015.

A decision on the project was delayed another week Jan. 24 due to a commission member’s absence.

Critics of the project say there’s insufficient transportation infrastructure to support the influx of 1,500 to 2,000 residents in the formerly industrial area. Most of them will use automobiles to get around, according to a city
environmental report.

The concourse’s location, reasonable rents and amenities such as carpeting and lights made it ideal for long-running shows like the KPFA Craft Fair. There’s no other event space like it in the Bay Area, said KPFA’s Jan Etre, adding that she may move her event to the smaller, more isolated Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

News of the concourse’s impending demolition hasn’t reached all of the event center’s longtime tenants, according to Ken Kaufman, who has organized the New Living Expo since the late 1980s. He plans to move his event to the San Mateo Event Center.

Concourse staff told Kaufman the space has open dates in April 2014 — by which point the concourse could be a construction site.

“There hasn’t been a lot of communication,” Kaufman said. “It’s really bizarre.”

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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