Central Subway extraction deal in North Beach still up in air as decision looms

By: Will Reisman : SFExaminer – excerpt

With a crucial vote on the project scheduled for Thursday, Muni has yet to reach a deal with a North Beach property owner about bringing up its Central Subway boring equipment at an abandoned 
theater.
The agency wants to purchase a two-year lease of the Pagoda Palace on Powell Street so it can remove equipment for the $1.6 billion subway project. Originally, Muni planned on using Columbus Avenue, but changed course to 
alleviate neighborhood concerns.
Despite being in talks for months with theater owner Joel Campos, the agency still hasn’t come up with compensation terms for the property. Campos planned to build a mixed-use development and wants The City to pay for the increased construction costs he will incur from delaying it until 2015…

As part of the plan, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu — whose district includes North Beach — crafted legislation to create a special-use district. It would waive some height restrictions and allow for an extra 1,000 square feet at the restaurant Campos plans to eventually build. Residential units also are planned.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the special district Thursday, but the deal is contingent upon Muni and Campos reaching lease terms. A delay on the vote also would affect the approval schedule of the Board of Supervisors, which must sign off on the plan as well…

The testy negotiations between Campos and Muni aren’t the only issues facing the project. A lawyer representing SaveMuni, a group opposed to the Central Subway, sent a letter to the transit agency Tuesday saying additional environmental study of the Pagoda site is required before extracting the tunnel equipment there. The note came attached with testimony from consulting engineer Lawrence Karp saying that the project would unsettle groundwater levels, leading to extensive damage at nearby properties.

Paul Rose, spokesman for the transit agency, dismissed those claims, saying that the project has some of the best engineers in the world working on it.

Even if the deal were to eventually move through, local businesses have expressed concerns about the economic impacts…  (more)

RELATED:
Pagoda Theater to Become Home to Central Subway Boring Machine

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