The Presidio Trust is a distinctive federal agency created to save an historic American place and transform it to serve a new national purpose.
The Trust is distinctive in its charter and governance, which allows the agency to involve all sectors and move quickly to generate results. The Trust crosses and blends traditional boundaries, and is able to combine private and public benefit.
Saving the Presidio
The Presidio Trust came into existence because much that is important about the Presidio was in danger of being lost forever.
In 1989 the federal government decided to close the Presidio as a U.S Army post. Though legislation adopted in 1972 had indicated that the Presidio would join the parklands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area should the Army depart, there was no funding provision to manage the Presidio’s costly transition or ongoing care. In 1994, the year the Army lowered its flag for the last time, it was projected that this place would require $1 billion in capital infusion to rehabilitate its buildings and infrastructure, and to transition to public use.
Creating the Presidio Trust
The Presidio Trust was created by Congress in 1996 for a dual purpose: to rehabilitate and repurpose the Presidio’s historic buildings and environmental resources, and operate the site as a vibrant public park independent of annual taxpayer funds by the end of 2012. The Trust was provided short-term annual allocations (1997-2012) and given the authority to engage the private sector to achieve its mission.
Innovative Management Model
The enterprise model that is at the heart of the Presidio Trust has worked. Through partnership with the National Park Service, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, other government and non-profit agencies, and private citizens and businesses, the Trust has made the Presidio a welcoming public place that is achieving growing national significance. Today, more than 3,000 people live in the park, a vibrant community of organizations is located here, and thousands of visitors come to learn, recreate, and gain a greater understanding of the Presidio’s legacy of national service.
Contemporary Park Making
The Presidio is a model of contemporary park making. The Trust has leveraged taxpayer dollars to attract private support to the park. Private revenue and tenant investment in the Presidio totals $1.2 billion over the past decade, more than four times the federal investment made during the same period. This investment has funded the rehabilitation of historic buildings and supported public programming. It has also made possible key park improvements, such as a trails program and campground. The Presidio will continue to be distinguished by its ability to attract partners who provide talent and support for transformative work in the park.