SAN FRANCISCO - Skateboard enthusiasts traversed the ramps and edges of San Francisco's newest skate park on Wednesday.
The San Francisco Recreation and Parks department carved out 13,000 square feet of space at U.N. Plaza for the skate park. It's a spot that has long been popular with skaters — the difference is that now they are encouraged to be there.
This skate park is one of the new recreational offerings U.N. Plaza now features following a two-month makeover project. City officials enlisted the expertise of professional skateboarders to design the area.
"What skateboarding has given me, I want to give to skateboarding, to the city, and most importantly kids," said Austin Kanfoush, a professional skateboarder and licensed contractor who worked on the park. "These kids need to know that there is tough stuff out there, but there are positive things they can turn to."
Kanfoush explained that the skate park's concept was to recreate open space while preserving treasured skate spots from the past.
"Bringing a little life back to it," he said.
The U.N. Plaza renovation project cost the city approximately $2 million.
City officials anticipate that the plaza's revitalization will attract more visitors and help address issues such as open-air drug activity, crime, and homelessness.
"This is how U.N. Plaza should be used for the community," said Mayor London Breed. "For the people to enjoy recreation and parks systems."
Kanfoush recounted his first time skateboarding in U.N. Plaza 12 years ago, which ended in him being "kicked out."
He finds it fulfilling to transition from being booted for skateboarding in the plaza to helping design a skater zone in that location.
"Definitely a full circle moment," he expressed.
Iconic skateboarding brand Vans, along with Thrasher Magazine appeared to give their stamp of approval on the new skate park.
Thrasher Magazine encouraged everyone to respect the environment, saying on social media, "Let’s take care of this place. Pick up your trash and respect the neighbors. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in San Francisco skateboarding. Big Love."
As a consequence of the improvement project, a farmers market that had been a fixture at U.N. Plaza for over four decades was relocated to a lot across the street, a move that generated discontent among some nearby residents.