950 Center for Art & Education, 966-974 Market St. (Planning, Design or Conception) – San Francisco – 94102
950 Center for Art & Education, 966-974 Market St.
The 950 Center for Art & Education has hit the ground running.
Less than a week after San Francisco-based developer Group I paid approximately $16 million for a 25,557-square-foot unentitled site at 966-974 Market St., the San Francisco Foundation has already taken steps to ensure that the development becomes the heart of a cultural district the city is pushing in the Mid-Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods. The project will likely consist of a 12-story building with 75,000 square feet of arts and performance space and about 250 housing units on the upper floors.
The foundation board has approved a $200,000 grant that will be used to hire an executive director and develop a plan for raising the money needed for the arts partnership. A second grant of $250,000 has been approved for the late summer.
Sandra Hernandez, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, said her group has long invested in improving those neighborhoods by supporting affordable housing, education and health care initiatives. But she said that arts and culture — particularly arts education — has been lacking.
“It’s a community that is quite diverse and has tremendous density of low-income families from all over the world,” said Hernandez. “One of the things that it has not had historically in access to arts and cultural programs for young people.”
Hernandez also said she is concerned that Mid-Market’s emergence as a hotbed for startups could price out nonprofits. Groups interested in being at the center include the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Youth Speaks, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Magic Theater and the American Conservatory Theater. All have a presence in the area, except for the Magic Theater, which is in Fort Mason.
“What they have in common is they are very vulnerable in a very competitive real estate market,” said Hernandez. “There is always a risk that they get priced out of the market when you have significant economic investment. We wanted to see if there is a way to embed the arts organizations into what is happening in tech in Mid-Market.”
The idea for an arts center on the 900 block of Market Street has been under discussion for a few years. But whether it was possible was in question after Lone Star Fund, which had foreclosed on the property, put the site up for sale. Hernandez said that Group I, which is renovating the historic Warfield Building on the same block, was an ideal buyer.
“Land acquisition is a huge part of a vision like this,” she said.
The redevelopment will be “part of a new and dynamic mixed-use project at the gateway to Mid-Market,” said a statement from Group I, headed by Joy Ou. Group I is also working with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and the Thacher family, which owns a parcel adjacent to the 950 Market properties.
Elvin Padilla of the North of Market Neighborhood Improvement Corp., who has advocated for the center, said he expects other nonprofits and foundations will be drawn to the project.
“The site control drama is passed, and we have a friendly property owner. The foundations are lining up,” he said.
Padilla said the arts center will be “a funky hybrid of performance companies” with a heavy emphasis” on education.
“We have drama and dance, music, multi-media and literacy — these are accomplished groups offering quality programming,” he said. “We will have people coming to catch a show and people coming to take a class.”
The sellers were represented by Sansome Street Advisors and the CAC Group.
The ACT could move its headquarters to the center, although it’s too early to say which groups will end up there.
“Nobody has signed a lease yet. Everybody is in the due diligence phase,” she said. “We have a lot of arts benefactors in this city who will want to be part of investing in this new arts center.”
J.K. Dineen covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), internationally known for their contemporary design and urbanism, is the architect for the project. BIG has creatively addressed the challenging proportions of the site with an eye toward creating an urban hub for the Mid-Market neighborhood. The proposed design breaks the massing into two sloping forms with the hotel and residences each wrapping around an inner atrium, maximizing sunlight in the space. The expected height is proposed to range from 120 to 180 feet or more. The design features retail and public spaces on the ground level with the arts and hotel occupying the remaining lower levels. We envision the lower atrium space to be versatile, morphing into a concert venue, informal gallery or exhibition hall reflecting the creative pulse of the City.
At Group I we’re interested in re-invention. In the case of Mid-Market, we want to create over 300 new spaces for people to live in the City’s core – urban, creative, moderately-priced homes located near public transportation, jobs, and the epicenter of city life. We are proposing a mix of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom options. Terraces with views of downtown are available and basement parking with up to 198 spaces and a minimum of three car share spots.
Imagine walking into a local, boutique hotel at the same time as a first-time author or an inspiring musician who grew up only blocks away. Group I envisions a hub where travelers, locals and artists meet, mingle, perform and exchange ideas – a place where experimental theater inspires international thought and where young artists can engage the world. Picture a lively atrium, surrounded by nearly 250 guest suites, as the backdrop for banquets, conferences, art exhibitions, great dining and every form of performance art imaginable.
The 950 Center for Arts & Education
Group I is excited to partner with the 950 Center for Arts & Education, a new nonprofit developing a permanent and affordable home for several landmark San Francisco arts and education organizations. The 950 Center will feature multiple performing theater spaces, administrative offices, rehearsal rooms, studios and classrooms. Funding for predevelopment has already come from several key Bay Area organizations including: The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the Columbia Foundation, the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
When it comes to new retail concepts, San Francisco is often leading the way. Many of today’s biggest companies began as small ideas, incubated in the City’s iconic neighborhoods. By providing approximately 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, we hope to attract a variety of small-scale venues for dining, entertainment, local wares, and neighborhood services that will activate the sidewalks and celebrate the unique diversity of our city.
Special Use District
Group I is working closely with the City of San Francisco to create a Special Use District essential to the establishment of a new Mid-Market Arts District. A Special Use District is a designation from the City’s Planning Code to encourage and facilitate a specific kind of development. This SUD, which is critical to the success of our venture, will create incentives like height and density bonuses that would enable the arts to be a viable part of the project.