Artists to Newsom-Lennar: Get specific

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By Sarah Jane Phelan
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Estrelle Akamine, shipyard artist and Spring Open Studio coordinator, at work in her Hunters Point Shipyard studio.

As the 49ers roll out the financial details behind their plan to relocate to Santa Clara, the artists at Hunters Point Shipyard are trying to work out what Mayor Gavin Newsom’s "with or without the 49ers" redevelopment proposal means for their artist colony, which has been at the shipyard for 30 years.

The artists aren't the only ones.

At last night’s meeting at the Southeast Community Facility, the audience weren’t the only ones unable to get their hands on a hard copy of the latest version of proposal, whose wording keeps changing faster than you can say, “bait and switch.” As a result, members of the Mayor’s Hunters Point Shipyard Citizens Advisory Committee and the Bayview Hunters Point Project Area Committee ended up voting to integrate the shipyard and Candlestick Point into one big old redevelopment project—WITHOUT HAVING A COPY OF the mayor’s most recent proposal in their hands.

Instead, Michael Cohen of the Mayor’s Office of Base Reuse read aloud the changes between the copy of the proposal that he had in his hand, and the copy the committees had before them.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, the meeting brightened up thanks to the artists, who turned out en masse, worried that their needs and concerns had not been addressed in adequate detail in the latest proposal which Cohen and Lennar refer to as a “conceptual framework”.

The artists were suitably unimpressed.

Pointing out that the city and Lennar are planning 19,000 dual use parking spaces, 8,500 housing units and 2 million square ft of retail and development, but have only made vague mention of the needs of the artistic colony which has been residents of the yard for 30 years, artist Jack Hain told the Guardian, "We don't want to be hoodwinked or snookered. We want specifics."

Michael Cohen of the Mayor's Office of Base Reuse told the committees that the City has a "commitment to retaining artists in existing spaces and in affordable accommodations.”

But if the artists say they want a 14-story building made of glass, then it would be more expensive than some other alternatives,” Cohen added.
For now the artists are busy with their Spring Open Studio, but expect to hear more from them--artistic expressions and otherwise.
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Estrelle Akamine, by the way, is the coordinator of the Spring Open Studio at the shipyard, and from the look of it, she's an expert hand with the paints, so beware!
Entrance and Parking at the event, which takes place this weekend, April 28 and 29, 11 AM - 6 PM, is free. Enjoy. For directions and details, check out www.springopenstudio.com