Rather than razing Building 101 and relocating the artist studios within as part of Lennar’s redevelopment of Hunters Point Shipyard, the former Navy fallout shelter (and piece of “The Point“) will be rehabilitated thanks to a $2.1 million federal grant.

The renovated Building 101 will become the hub of a new Hunters Point arts district.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by diemos

    The free market does it better and at no cost to the taxpayer.

  2. Posted by Mole Man

    Rebuilding is always more sustainable than new building, but I always thought this complex was ugly, poorly built, and a bad fit. Strange that this turns out to be the part that gets saved. The new redesign looks well intentioned, but possibly even flimsier. Are drop ceilings like that really appropriate for this use in this day and age? It seems like it should be possible to do better.
    Regarding this “free market” versus taxpayers strawman: Detroit is a superior example to follow? Enriching the commons always costs the public no matter how it is organized. There is more to life than money, and much more to being a proper citizen than mere paying of taxes.

  3. Posted by diemos

    “Detroit is a superior example to follow?”
    What it’s an example of, is putting some of the nation’s underutilized resources to work. You don’t need an SF address to produce art, just space and a low cost-of-living.

  4. Posted by ex SF-er

    Mole man: did you read Diemos’ link?
    in this case free market DEFINITELY wins.
    diemos: great find.
    interestingly, you bring up an interesting point that I’ve been ruminating on of late.
    increased cost of living can kill an area. but it is balanced by the fact that typically increased COL occurs due to demand to live in an area.
    there is no question that SF’s art scene is a shadow of it’s former glory, partly as people flee to cheaper burbs. this govt initiative is evidently an attempt to staunch some of that flow.
    another way of going about it would be simply to relax the cumbersome development process in SF… but that’s not going to happen.
    thus you get taxpayer subsidies… and I agree they’re less than optimal.

  5. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “You don’t need an SF address to produce art, just space and a low cost-of-living.”
    This is so true and to the point that I believe that there is an inverse relationship between COL of a location and the quality of art produced by its residents. As a counterexample consider what I call “resort art” which is the schlocky stuff that you can find in galleries in Taos, Tahoe and similar places. More custom home decorations than real art.
    And no, this is no “starving artist” theory. It is really simple. Even the most gifted artists with a solid vision require a long time to both refine their art as well as become recognized by the community and market. Until then income from art is zero and another income source is required.
    An artist living in a high COL area is going to be working long hours at their day job just to pay rent. In lower COL areas some artists can get by on grants alone and spend 100% of their time towards art.
    So in SF you have three classes of artists :
    1 – the working stiff trying to eek out an existence and spare a little time for art
    2 – the trustafarian for whom money is not a concern
    3 – the established artist who rose to prominence before 1990 and can now make a living from their art
    The #1s are facing an uphill battle and they aren’t making many more #3s in SF anymore.

  6. Posted by kathleen

    The artiat at the point are thrilled with new windows. The place is a wreck.
    The artists currently at the point don’t fit into the 1 2 3 scenario.
    You need to be a damn good artist to get into HP building 101.
    San Francisco and working artists lost Belcher Street studios this year.
    More squeeze on the artists, who happen to guard the soul of the city in their dirty bohemian hands.

  7. Posted by Mole Man

    Creative areas are the biggest artist magnets and there are always complications with property values in such areas because of buildup caused by persistently high levels of economic growth. This isn’t just a Richard Florida thing, it goes back to Henry George and earlier still.
    What is going on in Detroit is a very special thing. Light from Ann Arbor shines down on all of that, for one. Buffalo and Pittsburgh also have cultivated notable art and music scenes. Other low value areas like Cleveland, Ohio and Gary, Indiana and Erie, Pennsylvania have not been so graced. Bohemian social chemistry is complicated and prone to metaphorical explosions and toxic spills.

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Someone should tell Richard Florida that Robert Indiana left his Bowery studio to set up shop in nowheresville just as the big Manhattan gentrification trend was kicking in :-)
    The first artists to leave are sculptors and others who need huge studio spaces.
    Vallejo and especially the abandoned Naval base on Mare Island would make great lower cost studio space locations that are still in the bay area.
    Either that or gut a few vacant 5br/6ba Brentwood McMansions.

  9. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I am pretty sure the lowest COL area in the United States in still the Upper Plains, which has no serious artistic movement that I am aware of. You can buy a house in Nebraska for almost nothing. I guess Detroit gives it a run for its money, but taxes are probably lower in Nebraska.
    But you need more than just free time, you need other artists to bounce ideas off of, which means that there needs to be some kind of critical mass.
    There are lots of great old stone warehouses in downtown St. Louis and it is still a reasonably functioning metropolis. I would expect St. Louis to have a better chance to build an arts community than Detroit.

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