Senior Content Marketing Manager
Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA)
(415) 282-3334 ext. 152
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2016
MEDA Saves Founding Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center
Community support made MEDA purchase possible, with nonprofit and tenants saved
San Francisco, Calif. — After many months of effort, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) has been able to purchase 344-348 Precita Avenue in San Francisco, so that all tenants can remain at affordable rents.
The commercial tenant is Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, which has for decades created colorful murals, especially in the Mission community. Precita Eyes was nominated as the city’s first legacy business, per Prop J passed by San Francisco voters last November.
The apartments house four working-class residents – educators, musicians and therapists – who have long called the neighborhood home. All tenants were at risk of eviction from buyers looking to flip the building.
Tenant Dennis Mackenzie is thankful to remain in his home of over 30 years. He states, “Thanks to the many good people who made this possible, including MEDA, the San Francisco Community Land Trust, our families, friends, neighbors and others. This deal shows that there are ways to assist people so that we can remain in our longtime homes and businesses without being displaced and forced to move out of San Francisco.”
Community support made this deal a reality, with MEDA’s $400,000 downpayment raised by family, friends, neighbors and building residents, the latter raising over $19,500. The rest of the downpayment, more than $380,000, came from MEDA’s newly launched Neighbor-to-Neighbor (N2N) Fund, a community effort that is the brainchild of Mission resident Spike Kahn, who is also the founder of the nonprofit arts center, Pacific Felt Factory.
Neighbors from the Mission and Bernal Heights were very concerned about the potential loss of the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, a community arts institution in place for over 40 years on the site. The building’s residents used fundraising efforts, along with the N2N funds, to quickly raise the downpayment within 30 days, and were able to meet the seller’s timeline.
Cognizant of the need to preserve the remaining affordable housing left in the Mission, Kahn is also hoping the N2N Fund will become a model for communities citywide to save at-risk buildings housing low-income tenants who otherwise would be displaced in this hypercompetitive real estate market. “The N2N bridge loans can step in as a way to allow tenants to avoid evictions, and participate in a path to homeownership, staying in their neighborhood,” Kahn explains. “I envision a block-by-block approach to preserving affordable housing in the Mission, with the community taking the lead. This is a way that neighbors with resources can help others remain in their homes, and help preserve – and improve – their communities. The buildings we save will forever be affordable to the hardworking families that make up the Mission. All of us in this inaugural N2N program are proud to be of service.”
MEDA had to restructure the deal this way because the timeframe did not mesh with the prospective usage of the City’s Small Sites funds. MEDA plans to refinance the building under that program and repay all lenders.
Explains MEDA Director of Community Real Estate Karoleen Feng of the importance of this deal: “We originally started working with these at-risk tenants because we knew of the potential positive impact in the community. This was a means to stem displacement. We applaud all who collaborated with MEDA to make this complex deal possible and are planning future purchases of other vulnerable properties in the Mission.”
Precita Eyes Muralists Founding Director Susan Cervantes, speaking on the saving of her organization’s longtime space, states, ”MEDA’s successful purchase of the Precita building is truly a miracle. Thanks to all the community, family and friends who contributed to help MEDA buy our building and support this important cause to save the homes of working-class people, artists, small businesses and nonprofits in the Mission – who desperately need to know there is hope.”
Rooted in the Mission and focused on San Francisco, MEDA’s mission is to strengthen low- and moderate-income Latino families by promoting economic equity and social justice through asset building and community development.
About Precita Eyes Muralists
As an inner city, community-based mural arts organization, Precita Eyes Muralists Association seeks to enrich and beautify urban environments, and educate communities locally and internationally about the process and the history of public community mural art.