When a proposal for 274 new rental apartments along Bryant Street in the Mission was announced last year, it looked nearly certain that the current tenant, the arts space Inner Mission SF, would shut its doors forever. Instead, Inner Mission SF—formerly known as CELLspace—worked with the site's developer, Nick Podell, to find a solution that would allow the arts hub to survive. Podell will "substantially subsidize" Inner Mission SF's move to a new space either in the Mission or a nearby neighborhood and will also financially support its operations for five years, according to an announcement by Inner Mission SF. The group says Podell has also agreed to increase the number of below-market-rate units in his Bryant Street project above the legal requirement and to provide retail space to galleries and artists within the building.
Inner Mission SF currently provides studio and rehearsal space to 120 artists and musicians and also runs an art gallery and theater space. Faced with the loss of their storefront and the inability to pay rent at a new location, co-owners Eric Reid and Mike Gaines decided to get creative. First they discussed lobbying for legislation to require a "Cultural Impact Review" for new developments in San Francisco that would require developers to protect or replace space for businesses that are deemed "legacy arts and cultural centers." They realized that the legislation would take too long to save Inner Mission SF, so they approached Podell himself for help.
"Podell felt so strongly about our presentation that he and his partners decided to substantially invest in the future of Inner Mission SF and the preservation of the San Francisco art scene," Gaines said in a statement. Gaines and Reid say they are continuing to work on the legal language and parameters for a potential Cultural Impact Review measure, but do not have to rely on it to save Inner Mission SF.
A Planning Commission hearing is scheduled for July 2, and if the development is approved, the deal will move forward. Approvals would also mean that a new residential building designed by BDE Architects will take up nearly an entire block on Bryant bounded by Florida and 18th Street. It will bring new rentals, 151 parking spaces, and 4,300 square feet of retail.
UPDATE (6/18/15): The original version of this post listed the architects of the proposed project at 2070 Bryant incorrectly: They are BDE Architects, not BAR Architects. We regret the error. We have also corrected the unit count, which has changed from 276 to 274.