Photo: Monica Almendral
When MEDA and co-developer Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Center (TNDC) started construction on Casa Adelante – 681 Florida, they knew a celebration of the Mission’s flourishing art scene had to be incorporated into the design and space. In that vein, Saturday, April 17, was a memorable day, as Casa Adelante – 681 Florida community members were invited to join in painting a pair of temporary murals on the construction gates of the property. This development, which is one of five new constructions by MEDA in the Mission, broke ground last November and is rising higher every day.
Brushing up on the history of art at this site
A little history: Many in the neighborhood remember CELLSpace, founded a quarter century ago when a group of artists and educators leased a former screen-printing warehouse on Bryant Street to develop a communal workspace for collaborative and community-based arts. Sadly, CELLSpace lost its home a few years back when a market-rate developer bought that property to raze it and then develop luxury housing on the site, with his targeting as buyers the six-figure-earners who had been gentrifying the Mission.
An activated grassroots effort against the development occurred, with community members not accepting the unacceptably low percentage of affordable-housing units that were proposed for the new property. After lengthy negotiations, a community benefit was received: The developer would build a 100% market-rate structure on a portion of the land, with the other parcel given to the City of San Francisco for 100% affordable housing. MEDA and TNDC then won the right to build that housing, changing the address to 681 Florida.
The new construction project will house 130 units of affordable family housing and, in a nod to the arts, Carnaval San Francisco will be in the commercial space on the ground floor. The mission of Carnaval was deemed ideal for occupying this arts space:
“Carnaval San Francisco, the largest multicultural festival in the West Coast with the goal of educating people on the Latino, Caribbean and African Diasporic traditions of the Mission District and the San Francisco Bay Area. We accomplish our mission through dance, music, the visual arts and by creating spaces for community learning, school–based education, and advocacy.”
While Casa Adelante – 681 Florida is being constructed, there is a desire to once again enliven the space with the arts. That’s why on April 17 the community the Casa Adelante – 681 Florida community was invited to participate by helping Precita Eyes Muralists paint their design of a pair of temporary murals on the outer construction gates (see photo). The vibrant hues emulate those of the murals adorning walls throughout the Mission — a tribute to the Latino culture that makes the neighborhood teem with life.
It should be noted that all mandated social distancing and safety protocols were followed: Eight masked community members worked on the murals at any one time, maintaining a distance of six feet from their fellow painters.
This street has once again been enlivened — with the arts.