Following an acrimonious eviction from its longtime space and a roller-coaster few months, Galería de la Raza has landed at a temporary space on Valencia between 25th and 26th Streets.
Gallery leaders announced via a Facebook post on Thursday that they signed a lease on an “interim” space at 1470 Valencia Street — although the terms of the lease are unclear. The gallery’s executive director, Ani Rivera, declined to give details this morning as she stood outside the gallery’s supplemental space at 1990 Folsom, packing items into a moving truck presumably bound for Valencia Street.
She did, however, note that 1990 Folsom, now the site of an old bread warehouse, is “earmarked” as their permanent home in two years, once the Mission Economic Development Agency razes and rebuilds it as a 143-unit affordable project with ground floor space presumably reserved for the gallery. (In October, MEDA’s real estate director, Karoleen Feng, said MEDA is still “working” toward an affordable lease with the gallery but that she was “excited that they will be part of anchoring the 16th Street corridor.”)
“They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds,” reads the Facebook announcement. It states that the gallery will operate out of the 24th and Bryant space it has occupied since the early 1970s until Dec. 31.
Galería endured a tumultuous period starting in mid-October, when it received a proposed 100 percent rent hike from its present landlord. It had been paying $3,127 per month for two spaces totaling 4,000 square feet — actually far below market rate. Yet its leadership said it was willing to pay that amount for only one of the spaces while it searched for a permanent home.
That offer was rejected by GBA Realty, the landlord’s representatives. Negotiations broke down when the gallery said it could not afford to pay upwards of $1 million in capital improvements for a space it would end up leaving in two years. This was not a surprising development, as this demand was viewed as a non-starter.
“Capital upgrades are usually not attached to a two-year lease,” said Amy Beinart, an aide to Supervisor Hillary Ronen, shortly after the deal foundered. “You’d be negotiating poorly if you agreed to that.”
The gallery was served three-day pay-or-quit notice, essentially an eviction notice, on Oct. 29.
The fight to stay in the space was taken to the Nob Hill residence of the gallery’s landlord, Lily Ng, in a November protest, but this didn’t alter anyone’s mindset.
The beloved institution has options separate and apart from its newfound temporary home. It has its earmarked space at 16th and Folsom — and, potentially, ground floor space at a forthcoming development at 2779 Folsom, near 24th Street.
And, in some sense, Galería’s short move to Valencia is something of a homecoming: The gallery was founded at 14th and Valencia in 1970, until it moved to 24th and Bryant, where it will remain until the end of the year.