A Monthly Publication of the Presidio Trust

September 1998 -- Volume 1, Issue 2

What’s Inside



Cover Story

Letterman Renewal

Tenants Sought for Letterman Complex Site

Almost one third of the Presidio’s non-residential space was announced for lease on August 14 with the publication of the Letterman Complex Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The Presidio Trust is seeking non-profit or for-profit organizations that are compatible with the Trust’s mission of preserving and enhancing the 1,480-acre Presidio as part of the national park system.

The new tenant(s) will ground lease 23 acres of the 60-acre Letterman Complex. The site includes the non-historic and functionally obsolete Letterman Army Medical Center (LAMC) and Letterman Army Institute of Research (LAIR) buildings.

The two buildings will most likely be torn down and replaced with campus-style, lower-profile buildings of up to 900,000 square feet that are more architecturally compatible with historic structures on the Presidio. The master tenant must have a minimum space requirement of 100,000 square feet. Subtenants may have smaller space requirements.

Revenue earned by leasing the site will support the park’s preservation. By the year 2013 – when the Presidio must be self-sufficient – the Letterman Complex will generate at least $5 million per year, 14 percent of the Presidio’s projected $35.7 million annual budget.

Two public workshops held in August and September provided the opportunity for feedback about the Letterman RFQ. Public comment will also be heard at the October 14 Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Advisory Commission meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Building 201 in upper Fort Mason. Advisory Commission meetings are the Trust’s official forum for hearing public input.

The tenant selection process is designed to ensure that the Trust finds the most appropriate organization for the Presidio’s national park setting. Responses are due on October 12. Top respondents will be selected based upon each organization’s qualifications and proposed use, and on November 23, they will be invited to submit detailed proposals. On February 25, 1999, the highest-ranking respondent(s) will be offered the opportunity to negotiate a lease with the Trust. A second round of community workshops will be held in March to collect feedback on the tenant selection before a lease is finalized in late spring.

Appropriate entities for the Letterman Complex may include those involved with scientific research, education, environmental studies, scientific inquiry, healthcare, arts, philanthropy, conflict resolution and international relations. Organizations in knowledge-based industries such as biotechnology, multimedia, computer graphics, telecommunications, film production and Internet-based research and development may also qualify.

Other than the LAMC and LAIR buildings, the Letterman Complex includes the old Letterman Hospital – now the Thoreau Center for Sustainability – and a collection of historic buildings that will be leased separately.

By 2013, non-coastal areas of the park will be self-sustaining and no longer require taxpayer support. The Trust will also increase open space on the Presidio by 25 percent so that eventually two-thirds of the national park will consist of natural areas.

The Letterman RFQ is available at the Trust office or by calling 415-561-5335.



Selection Process



News Briefs

San Francisco Film Institute

Two buildings on the Main Post may soon be home to the San Francisco Film Institute and a one-screen theater showing films from around the world. The Institute was the most qualified of eleven respondents to the Request for Qualifications for a former Sixth Army Headquarters Building (Bldg. 39) and the Presidio Theater (Bldg. 99) and is negotiating a lease with the Trust.

Vegetation Management Plan

Plans are in the works for preserving and enhancing natural areas of the Presidio. A preview of the Presidio Vegetation Management program was presented to the public at the September 9 Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Advisory Commission meeting. The National Park Service is developing the plan in partnership with the Presidio Trust.

Space Available for Small Organizations

Small non-profit and for-profit organizations will soon have the opportunity to lease space on the Main Post in two former Army headquarters buildings. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to lease buildings 38 and 220 will be available on September 30. Please call 561-5300 to receive a copy of the RFQ or for further leasing information.



Presidio Trust Update

Board Profile

Toby Rosenblatt brings a long history of park preservation to his work as Chair of the Presidio Trust Board of Directors. Since 1991, Rosenblatt has been Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Golden Gate National Parks Association, a member-supported nonprofit that provides financial and volunteer support to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

"It is an honor to be involved in preserving this spectacular part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Our work will ensure that the Presidio’s many treasures are always available for the enjoyment of people from San Francisco and around the world."

Rosenblatt also brings expertise in planning, having served for eleven years as President of the San Francisco Planning Commission from 1977 to 1988. Professionally, Rosenblatt is President of Glen Ellen Company and Vice President of Founders Investments, Ltd., both financial consulting and investment companies.



Board Members



Trust Moves to Building 34

The Presidio Trust has a new address as of September. We are now located at 34 Graham Street in building 34 on the Main Post. Our mailing address remains the same: Post Office Box 29052, San Francisco, California, 94129-0052.


Presidio Trust Web Site Coming Soon

Information about Presidio Trust activities from recreation to leasing will soon be available on-line. The Presidio Trust’s web site is under development and will be found at this fall.



Executive Director’s Column

Outreach and Input

The Presidio has been a hub of activity in recent months. The Financial Management Program went off to Congress in July, putting the Trust on its way toward meeting our charge of preserving the park for all to enjoy. Films from around the world will soon be showing at the Presidio Theater thanks to the San Francisco Film Institute, which is negotiating for the Trust’s first lease. Housing across the park is opening up as we start our residential leasing program, and we are looking forward to this month’s release of a new program to restore and enhance the Presidio’s vast natural areas.

It has been gratifying to see the level of public involvement and support for the work we are doing to preserve this spectacular park. In the past eight months since I arrived at the Presidio, we have participated in more than 70 meetings with the community, including five three-hour workshops and monthly meetings with our official advisory body – the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Advisory Commission.

If you have not already, I encourage you to participate in our public outreach program. I would also welcome your feedback if you have suggestions on how we might better connect with our constituencies in San Francisco and across the country.

We are most appreciative for your ongoing interest in the Presidio.

Yours Very Truly,

Jim Meadows
Executive Director



History Article

The Changing Face of Letterman Hospital

Once a flat, grassy space on the eastern edge of the Presidio, the site of the present-day Letterman Complex was first used by the military in 1898 for a temporary troop encampment during the Spanish-American War. By 1902, the U.S. Army had built a six-acre, campus-style complex on the site, now known as the Old Letterman Hospital. During five wars and peacetime, the hospital served soldiers and sometimes civilians, such refugees after the 1906 earthquake.

Then in 1969, the Army dedicated a new 10-story hospital – the Letterman Army Medical Center (LAMC) – on the eastern end of the complex. Four years later, the five-story Letterman Army Institute of Research (LAIR) building was constructed, and the Army began demolishing sections of the Old Letterman Hospital. After the Army left the Presidio in 1994, the remaining buildings of the old hospital were renovated and leased to the Thoreau Center for Sustainability and other tenants.

The new Letterman Hospital (LAMC) has been vacant since 1992, and LAIR has had minimal use. As described on page one, the Presidio Trust is now seeking tenants to remove both buildings and replace them with lower-profile, more architecturally compatible buildings on the eastern end of the Letterman Complex.



Feature Article

Presidio Housing Opens Up: Presidio Workforce and Students Among First to Move In

People who work on the Presidio and San Francisco graduate students will be among the first wave of new residents at the Presidio. In September, approximately 50 apartments and 20 duplexes will be ready for occupancy. The remaining units will open over the course of the next 12 to 16 months.

In the long term, all Presidio housing will be rented to people of all income levels who work at Presidio-based organizations. Providing housing close to jobs will help maintain a balance between jobs and housing and minimize transportation demand and environmental impacts.

Until enough people work on the Presidio to use all of the housing, short-term leases are available to other federal employees, students and faculty, and the general public, in that priority order.

There are currently 1,119 units on the Presidio with a planned increase to 1,600 by converting dormitories and building replacement housing on already built-up areas. Additional units will help accommodate a full range of workforce housing by adding studios and one-bedroom apartments to the current stock of primarily two-bedroom or larger homes.

In partnership with a consortium of San Francisco colleges and universities, the Trust will provide short-term housing in the Wherry Apartments to primarily graduate students and school faculty. The consortium includes San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco School of Law, Golden Gate University, San Francisco Art Institute, University of California at San Francisco Medical School and City College.

In two residential neighborhoods, full-time Presidio employees with combined household incomes of up to $45,000 will pay no more than 40 percent of their income for rent and utilities. For example, a family of five earning $25,000 annually could live in a three-bedroom home for $833 per month.

The John Stewart Company now handles residential property management for the Presidio. For more information about Presidio housing, please call 415-561-5454. Rentals to the general public are not available at this time.



Presidio Tenant Organization Spotlight

ALOHA Networks

Internet users will soon be able to access the Internet by satellite thanks to the innovative research and design of Presidio-based ALOHA Networks. Internet access infrastructure called SkyDSL will connect small businesses and local Internet Service Providers (ISP) directly to the U.S. Internet backbone. When it is launched in early 1999, SkyDSL will be the only two-way satellite system able to economically reach large populations of Internet users through the air.

"Broadband internet access, regardless of location, has never been accessible to the general public before," said Rusty Schweickart, an Apollo 9 astronaut and ALOHA Executive Vice President. "As a growing hub of high-tech activity, the Presidio is the ideal place for ALOHA to do this cutting-edge work."

SkyDSL will rely on ALOHA’s proprietary SAMA (Spread ALOHA Multiple Access) technology to provide world-wide Internet access. Satellite connection will make Internet access more affordable overseas, where terrestrial links to the global Internet backbone are more costly than in the United States, and in many locations, unavailable at any price.

In addition to being on the cutting edge of Internet technology, ALOHA Networks is among the first wave of knowledge-based companies on the Presidio. ALOHA came to the Presidio in January of this year. As more non-residential buildings open up on the Presidio, opportunities for high-technology companies will expand.

Technology will play an important role on the Presidio as the community grows. A fiber optic backbone will enable high-speed data transmission to activity centers in the Presidio, and residences will eventually be connected as well.



News From Around the Park

Tenants Sought for Historic Officers’ Club

A Request for Qualifications for a tenant to rehabilitate and lease the historic Presidio Officers’ Club will be released on September 30. Established when the Presidio was settled in 1776, the Officer’s Club is the oldest adobe residence on the West Coast. Compatibility with the Presidio’s historic landmark context will be a key selection criterion.


Learning Opportunities for Kids

Presidio education programs for students are about to start up again for the fall semester. High school students from Washington, Mission, Balboa and Lincoln high schools will help restore natural areas of the park through a six-part, curriculum-based program called Students, Stewards and Sustainability. Marina Middle School will begin working with the Presidio this fall to incorporate national science standards into the plant biology field trips that are offered to San Francisco middle school students. Every eighth grader in East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood School District will visit the Presidio twice this year to learn about native plant restoration and the contributions of African Americans on the Presidio. Fourth graders from a dozen elementary schools will spend a day in a replica of an 1878 Presidio classroom as part of a curriculum-based education program.


Native Plant Nursery

In August, Presidio Trust staff joined the hundreds of volunteers who pitch in monthly at the Presidio Native Plant Nursery near Fort Scott. On Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., volunteers are invited to join National Park Service staff in planting cuttings, trimming dune plants, and repotting native species. For more information about volunteering in the nursery, please call 415-561-4830.


Compressed Natural Gas Station

Nineteen vehicles at the Presidio will use compressed natural gas instead of gasoline for fuel as of October 1. A compressed natural gas station (CNG) has opened near the Presidio Main Post beneath Doyle Drive thanks to a partnership between the National Park Service and four other organizations – including the City and County of San Francisco – that will use the station during the demonstration project. Using natural gas lessens dependence on petroleum products for transportation and minimizes toxic emissions.




Saturday, September 19, 10 a.m.

Ranger Walks in the Presidio

  • Little War, Big Impact
  • Women of the Presidio
  • From Rubble to Renaissance

(561-4323 for more information about ranger-led events)

Saturday, September 26, 7 p.m.


Phil Frank, creator of the cartoon strip "Farley" and his wife Susan offer suggestions about how to enjoy Yosemite National Park from their new book The Yosemite Handbook. Presidio Visitor Center (561-4323).

Sunday, September 27, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Yakoana – The Voice of Indigenous Peoples

A special screening of this documentary at the Main Post Chapel will feature the 1992 First World Conference of Indigenous Peoples. Free reception follows. (800-560-6984)

Wednesday, September 30

Officers’ Club and Multi-tenant Buildings Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

Organizations interested in leasing the Presidio Officers’ Club or space in building 38 or 220 can pick up the RFQs at the Presidio Trust offices, 34 Graham Street. (561-5300)

Wednesday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) Advisory Commission Meeting

Public input is welcome at this monthly meeting of the Presidio Trust’s official advisory body. The Letterman Request for Qualifications will be discussed. (561-5300)

Saturday, October 17, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Alcatraz: The Documentary

Presidio Visitor Center (561-3992)