Dario Hadjian, the proprietor of Piazza Pelligrini on Columbus, had a couple of unexpected guests this afternoon: A pair of bricks from the adjacent Pagoda Palace construction site.
The bricks either landed directly on the sidewalk or fell within the construction site and slid under the fence. What's certain is they came to rest next to one of the cafe's outdoor tables, angering the restaurateur. "This is a danger," he said.
The Pagoda Palace, a century-old theater and longtime abandoned eyesore, is on the cusp of demolition to serve as the extraction point for the boring machines digging the Central Subway. This is a controversial and contested portion of a controversial and contested project, and today's incident further frayed nerves.
"They didn't control the products of the demolition," says Richard
Hanlin, a retired contractor -- "I was in the demolition business."
Hanlin, a neighborhood resident, was on the scene for
the falling bricks. "I heard a pneumatic tool noise above me," at about 3 p.m. He then ducked into a nearby parking lot. Moments later, "when I
came back out, I saw the bricks."
Andrea Baker, a consultant tasked with "Central Subway outreach" said she was told that the bricks "rolled" underneath the fence rather than falling directly onto the sidewalk. She was unable to immediately direct SF Weekly to an eyewitness. She was also unable to discuss whether it would be possible for bricks to fall directly onto the sidewalk or if bricks falling from upper floors within or without the fenced-off area was a bad thing.
Hanlin, however says it's a bad thing. "I saw two pieces of brick with mortar. I told anybody who'd listen there's a problem here."
A hulking Zaxis 450 LC machine is sitting in front of Bottlecap restaurant, waiting action. Muni spokesman Paul Rose says that large-scale demolition could start on the Pagoda site as early as this week.