Mission Creek Park P3 will transform a barren, nondescript strip of terrain into a lush, lively gateway to the Mission Bay South neighborhood. The new 1.65-acre park will serve to extend Mission Creek Park, located west of Fourth Street, and align it with China Basin Park, part of the Mission Rock development being constructed east of Third Street. The plaza and pedestrian-friendly esplanade, behind One Mission Bay and the SOMA Mission Bay Hotel, will feature outdoor seating, with views of the waterfront and Oracle Park.
P3, as it’s been referred to in planning and construction phases, will be functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will rely on the park to treat stormwater runoff from adjacent open spaces and streets. Rainwater gardens – bioswales – will collect stormwater, filter out pollutants, and release clean water into San Francisco Bay.
In recent months basins were dug for the bioswales. These will be filled with soil, grasses and other plants that filter water and are able to withstand inundation. The flora will keep motor oil and other toxins from polluting the Bay, home to such marine life as sea lions, fish and aquatic birds, said Luke Stewart, director of design and planning for Mission Bay Development Group, the company than manages Mission Bay’s redevelopment. Wooden walkways will be installed to cross the gardens and connect parkgoers from the residential to the waterfront side, where there’ll be a paved apron.
An underground pump station at Fourth and Channel streets will move water to belowground storage at P3. From there the water will travel to the basins to be naturally cleansed, then flow out to the channel. A similar bioswale can be found at Bayfront Mariposa Park, along Terry Francois Boulevard, between Mariposa and Illinois streets.
“Plant species will transition in character from the water’s edge to the building façade. They each have different roles to play at the channel, in the basins and at the townhomes,” said Willett Moss, founding partner at CMG Landscape Architecture, a South-of-Market firm contracted to design the waterfront park including plant palettes for P3.
Plantings will predominantly be native and include pollinator species and florae that support bird life, including yarrow. Salt marsh species will cover the channel bank. By One Mission Bay’s townhomes, which have private patios bordering the park, native evergreen shrubs like ceanothus and coffeeberry will be cultivated. These species can withstand the challenges of an urban environment, such as dogs and cats. Trees will include native oaks and willows.
The permit to develop the park was issued in mid-2019; construction commenced that fall. Pre-pandemic, P3 was anticipated to be substantially complete by the end of last year. It’s now expected to open this fall.
“Construction paused briefly in early spring 2020, then recommenced safely, albeit slowly, under the new public health and safety guidelines,” Stewart said, referencing COVID-19 protocols for construction work.
Mission Bay Wine & Cheese, which opened at 114 Channel Street in 2019, will have a patio on the park near Fourth Street, where wine, cheese, cured meat sampler plates, and sandwiches will be offered. The shop recently reopened for indoor dining, said general manager Chris Rivera.
New Belgium Brewing of San Francisco starts pouring this month on Third Street, with indoor and outdoor seating and craft beers brewed onsite. The 250-room SOMA Mission Bay Hotel, at 100 Channel Street, is scheduled to open this summer.
The Dahlia School of San Francisco, a daycare and preschool for children 18 months to six years old, anticipates opening this fall. It’s leased a 3,343 square foot storefront at Fourth and Channel and is awaiting licensing approval. It’ll be a Montessori school, with subsidized tuition available to low- to moderate-income families through the City’s Early Learning Scholarship program. Total enrollment is planned at 36 children; a dozen in the toddler community, up to age three, and, depending upon COVID restrictions, two pods of 12 older kids. Mission Bay resident Lindsey Barnes, founder and executive director, said proximity to the park will be incorporated into programming, which will include taking children on walks.
“We like to integrate going out with field trips for the children, take them out in small groups and poke around and talk about the wildlife that’s out there. Just sitting inside, the children and staff will look out into nature,” Barnes said, noting the floor to ceiling plate glass windows that face P3. “The sociological aspect of being in nature has benefits, stimulates creativity and imagination. It’ll be a real benefit for them to enjoy the view of nature. Parents will appreciate the drop off and pickup experience. Being at the park invites them to get to know one another and continue building community and neighbor relationships with one another.”
“We’ll have moms hanging out next door, why not have a wine bar next door? It’ll be perfect for us,” Rivera said.
Toby Levine, a 16-year resident of Berry Street and Mission Bay Citizens’ Advisory Committee member, said that apart from a stretch under the Interstate 280 overpass on the southside of Mission Creek that remains unimproved, the neighborhood will have a picturesque circuitous course for urban hikers.
“The new park will be a near-completion of the plan that circles Mission Creek,” Levine said. “Mission Creek had its beginning at Seventh and Berry where it emptied into what was Mission Bay. Once it’s finished, we’ll have this beautiful circular route around the creek which is what remains of the original Mission Bay. It’ll serve the neighborhood very well.”