"In a first, San Francisco plaza would celebrate leather culture"


February 21, 2015
SFGATE

A San Francisco property developer is proposing a leather-themed plaza South of Market to honor the neighborhood’s rich LGBT history.

But don’t expect Eagle Plaza to host public spankings, bondage or floggings, as one might see at the Folsom Street Fair, the city’s annual celebration of the leather culture and sexual fetish.

The park — planned for 12th and Harrison streets in Folsom Gulch — is envisioned as a family-friendly setting with food trucks, adding community space to a district with the fewest public parks and open areas in the city.

“What we are trying to show is that the neighborhood can accommodate growth, but also celebrate past history. The whole leather theme is to say, 'Let’s embrace the neighborhood,’” said Michael Yarne, a principal owner of real estate development company Build Inc.

“We don’t think there is any leather-scene public space in the world,” he said. “This is a great way to address a broader need for green public gathering space and commemorate the neighborhood’s rich heritage.”

Yarne’s firm is looking to turn a parking lot adjacent to the proposed plaza into a residential building, for which the company would be required to pay an estimated $1.7 million in impact fees.

Rather than direct the money into a city general fund, though, Yarne is working with his nonprofit venture, Build Public, to steer some of the cash toward the Eagle Plaza project.

It would be named for the SF Eagle bar — a 12th Street nightspot that has long been integral in the gay community and the leather scene. When it temporarily shut down in 2011, some activists wanted it preserved as a historic landmark.

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