A renovation project at Esprit Park in San Francisco that broke ground this month will leave the park closed for about a year, according to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.

Once renovated, the 2-acre Dogpatch neighborhood park will still have its original design, but its large grass area will be divided into two meadows.

The north side will be for off-leash dogs and their owners, and the south side will be for families and picknickers, the parks department said.

“Dogpatch is a thriving neighborhood and green space like Esprit Park is vital to the health and happiness of its residents,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton. “This project is about ensuring Esprit Park will last for future generations and serve everyone, from families and kids to dog lovers to fitness enthusiasts.”

Esprit Park in its current configuration appears in an undated image. The park was originally created in 1982 by clothing manufacturer Esprit for use by its employees. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Parks and Recreation)

The project will bring new picnic areas and exercise equipment to the park.

Additionally, the renovated park will have new native plants and disease-resistant trees.

“Esprit has been a treasured bit of nature in a very urban neighborhood, and Dogpatch residents were clear they wanted it to remain that way,” said San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “Our goal is to preserve this natural oasis while making it durable and sustainable.”

Neighborhood residents and merchants helped shape the park’s new design, which was drawn up by Fletcher Studio Landscape Architecture and Urban Design.

Falling out of fashion

Originally, Esprit Park was built by Esprit, a clothing manufacturer, in 1982 as an outdoor area for their employees.

However, in the duration of 40 years, the park suffered major wear and tear due to the population of the neighborhood quintupling. Ownership was eventually transferred to the Rec and Park in 2001.

The $8.5 million renovation was largely funded by a $5 million grant from University of California, San Francisco, which owns six acres in the Dogpatch neighborhood, as well as $3.5 million in Eastern Neighborhoods Development Impact Fees.

An architectural rendering shows plans for the Sequoia grove protection deck at the redesigned Esprit Park in San Francisco. (Image courtesy of Fletcher Studio)

According to a news release from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, the project also benefited from the assistance of the Dogpatch and Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District.

“UCSF worked collaboratively with residents of San Francisco’s Dogpatch and Potrero Hill communities to identify projects that would enhance the neighborhood and strengthen community,” said Francesca Vega, vice chancellor of UCSF Community and Government Relations. “We are delighted to support the revitalization of Esprit Park, the only city park in Dogpatch, to improve safety, access, and utilization of a longtime neighborhood treasure.”

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at victoria.franco@baycitynews.com.