Powell St. Promenade

The commercial area on Powell Street in downtown San Francisco is one of the busiest pedestrian corridors in the county. On an average weekend, it is typically traveled by more than 100,000 people. In some areas, pedestrian overcrowding has been an issue of concern.

Photo By Kathleen Corey, Flickr

Photo By Kathleen Corey, Flickr

Powell Street Promenade

In December of 2009, the Planning Department worked with Public Works, the Union Square Business Improvement District (BID), local merchants and property owners to conduct a short term pilot to experiment with wider sidewalks along Powell Street. After reviewing the results of this initial pilot and holding several community meetings, the Unions Square BID proposed an early concept design on a longer-term sidewalk extension.

In 2011, the Union Square BID collaborated with the City & County of San Francisco, Audi of America, and other partners to create a longer-term sidewalk extension on Powell Street between Ellis and Geary Streets. Called the Powell Street Promenade, this new public space provides six additional feet of pedestrian walkway adjacent to the sidewalk and adds amenities such as custom designed aluminum benches, planters, tables, rails, landscaping, bike parking, and free wi-fi. Low-energy LED lights illuminate the space through power collected from solar panels.

As a key financial partner, Audi of America provided $890,000 for construction of the Promenade. A small “stamp” of the Audi logo is present on a plaque along the Promenade, but the space remains public in appearance and does not feel strongly “branded”. In addition to donating the funds to construct the Promenade, Audi also included a yearly maintenance grant for the 5-year lifespan of the installation. Audi donates approximately $33,000 annually to pay for the maintenance, plant replacement, and repair of the promenade. These funds are administered by the Union Square BID.

Primary Model Type

Public/Private Partnerships


San Francisco, CA


Union Square Business Improvement District

Budget Range

Cost to set-up: $$$$$

Manager resource level: $$$$$