No one said the mayor's job was easy. And working through the hurdles of his extensive Central Market Economic Strategy, a tireless effort to revitalize San Francisco's long-struggling Mid-Market neighborhood, has been no exception for Ed Lee.
But despite the disappointing cuts in funding, stalled development and opposition to controversial incentive tax breaks, Lee hasn't given up on his adopted project. And this week, he announced an exciting new detail: the Summer Arts Series at UN Plaza.
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Through September, the plaza will host arts-related entertainment and events every Tuesday at lunchtime, with a schedule that cleverly coincides with that of Off the Grid's – the popular food truck meet-up.
According to the Central Market Partnership, the series is the fruit of a $20,000 grant from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, and the lineup will include music, theater, dance and performance art from groups like Intersection for the Arts, Cutting Ball Theater and Flyaway Productions and Dancers.
"The Central Market Economic Strategy is a roadmap to guide our efforts to create jobs, stabilize the community and transform the quality of life for the neighborhood," said Mayor Lee in a statement about the plan. "The arts are an integral part of this strategy."
Though steps from thriving areas like the Mission and Hayes Valley, the Central Market neighborhood has been chronically plagued with drugs, violence and homelessness for decades. Lee aims to combat this environment by bringing in new businesses.
The revitalization of the Central Market neighborhood is not a new ambition. Gavin Newsom pushed for its redevelopment during his term, as did mayors dating back to Dianne Feinstein.
"Some things will work out, some things won't," said Gavin Newsom in a January 2010 interview with KRON about the development. "But we're not willing any longer to accept the status quo and argue for mediocrity in mid-Market."
The project has always been a delicate balance between revitalization and gentrification, but lately, businesses and organizations like Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Dottie's True Blue Café, Black Rock Arts Foundation and Huckleberry Bikes have given Market Street its own voice. And in February, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) purchased the old Strand Theater, and announced plans to revitalize the building as a performance space.
It seems that the goal of a thriving neighborhood in mid-Market might actually be on the horizon.
"I think you're seeing a total resurgence," said Lee to the Chronicle on a tour of the neighborhood on Thursday. "We're on the move. This is all for real - no more talk."
“Summer of Art highlights many of the incredible organizations that call Central Market and the Tenderloin home and make this neighborhood one of the most prolific and richest artistic communities,” said Summer of Art Organizer Felice Ana Denia. “We are grateful to have the support of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, North of Market Tenderloin Community Benefit District, UC-Hastings Law School and the City to allow the public to experience these performances for free.”
See Summer of Art's schedule on the city website, and look through our slideshow below for a fe of the Central Market businesses that we're excited about: