Oh the not-so-satisfying feeling of “I told you so …”

It was obvious when Joy Ou / Group i evicted 150+ artists from 340 Bryant Street in 2012/13 that she was never a supporter of the arts, but rather only about her profit … likely she used the “950 Art Center” as a way to get support around her luxury condo and luxury hotel that the Art Center would have been a part of.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mid-Market development loses highly touted arts center plan

By J.K. Dineen
Updated 10:35 am, Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Mid-Market developer is pulling the plug on plans to include a community-based performing arts center as part of a flashy mixed-use hotel and residential complex at 950 Market St.

Group I, which owns nearly all the property on the north side of Market Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, has told the city it will drop the planned 950 Center for the Arts & Education and go forward with a smaller, less-expensive development consistent with current zoning. Continue reading HERE.

From the article that I wrote for Stretcher.org in

June 2013 – The Gentrification of Our Livelihoods:

“The Rainin Foundation is also working with the developer Joy Ou / Group I, along with the San Francisco Foundation, and Thatcher Family to support the development of the 950 Center for Art & Education at 950 Market, which Ou purchased in 2013. The project will potentially include 316 residential units, a 250-room hotel, a 75,000 square-foot arts complex, and 15,000 square feet of retail space. The 950 Market project is being designed by BIG, an architectural firm from New York.

Ironically, Joy Ou / Group I displaced 150+ artists from the 340 Bryant Street Studios in 2013. The four-story warehouse built in 1952 is a large industrial space that had been divided into individual studio spaces that were considered affordable at an average of $1.50/square foot, while also providing plenty of open common space to share ideas. The building was an official site for Art Span’s SF Open Studios, for artists who wished to participate, and many did as the “South Beach Artist Studios.” According to Chris Dorosz and Paule Dubois Dupuis, two of the leaseholders at 340 Bryant, Ou attended Open Studios in 2012 and subsequently decided to make an offer and purchase the building to renovate for “market rate tech offices.”

As one of the tenants of 340 Bryant and in the context of writing an article for Stretcher on “the economy and development in San Francisco and its affects on the arts community,”[12] I met with Ou on July 9, 2012 to ask her about the potential for artists to remain in the building. Ou informed me that the current tenants would have to be out by January 1, 2013. She recommended that I look for a new studio in the Bayview Hunters Point.[13] I expressed my deep disappointment that she would be displacing 100+[14] artists, especially given that I’d heard she was such a strong supporter of the arts. She responded that developers are always getting the bad rap and that her interest is in making San Francisco a more vibrant place to live. She went on to tell me that she had also recently purchased the Warfield Building and that she and her boyfriend Elvin Padilla, then Executive Director for the Tenderloin Economic Development Project are working together to clean up the Tenderloin. She noted that the SROs in the neighborhood should all be torn down. In retrospect I wish that I had asked Ou how she planned on converting 340 Bryant from an industrial zoned space into an office building, which has become a concern for other industrial sites in the neighborhood.

Group I and Ou were also called out in March 2013 by union members from the San Francisco Carpenters Local 22 for not hiring contractors who pay union scale wages to work on office renovations at her property at 988 Market Street.

It should be noted that Ou is on the Board of Directors for the Wildflower Institute, one of the current finalists for the next round of ArtPlace grants for the project “Hidden Gems of the Tenderloin”, as well as on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Art Institute, which did not support the successful efforts of SFAI’s adjunct faculty to unionize and join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021.”

Read full article HERE.

We Lose Space, Installation by Megan Wilson and Gordon Winiemko, San Francisco Art Commission Grove Street Gallery (across from SF City Hall), San Francisco, CA, 2000, photo by Megan Wilson

New Feature on Stretcher:

Preface: When I began researching and writing The Gentrification of our Livelihoods in early March 2014 one of my primary interests was the impact that the collaboration between Intersection for the Arts and developer Forest City’s creative placemaking 5M Project is having on the existing communities that have invested in and called the South of Market home prior to the tech booms. Having worked with many community-based organizations within the SoMa community for the past 18 years, I’ve had deep concerns about the development’s impact for the neighborhood and its impact on the future of Intersection.

However, I would not have predicted the announcement that Intersection made on May 22nd to cut its arts, education, and community engagement programs and lay off its program staff would come as soon as it did. What began as a reflection on the shortcomings of creative placemaking as a tool for economic development and its implications on gentrification and community displacement has become a cautionary tale for arts and community organizations to question and better understand the potential outcomes of working with partners whose interests are rooted in financial profit.

Over the past two months I’ve spoken with many of the stakeholders involved with the 5M development, as well as the creative placemaking projects that are helping to shape the changes in the culture and landscape throughout San Francisco, these include: Deborah Cullinan, former Executive Director, Intersection for the Arts; Jamie Bennett, Executive Director, ArtPlace America; Angelica Cabande, Executive Director, South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN), Jessica Van Tuyl, Executive Director, Oasis For Girls, April Veneracion Ang, Senior Aide to Supervisor Jane Kim, District 6 and former Executive Director of SOMCAN; Tom DeCaigney, Director of Cultural Affairs, San Francisco Art Commission; Josh Kirschenbaum, Vice President for Strategic Direction, PolicyLink, and an anonymous source within Forest City Enterprises … Continue Reading