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CCSF board votes to build performance hall at Balboa Reservoir

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City College of San Francisco has proposed constructing a large performance hall near its Ocean Campus at Balboa Reservoir. (Rendering courtesy LMN Architects and TEF Design/CCSF)

The Board of Trustees resurrected plans to build a performing arts center at City College of San Francisco on Thursday, marking the first major endeavor for the elected officials since escaping an accreditation crisis in January.

The board voted 6-0 in favor of building the center on Balboa Reservoir in phases, beginning with the construction of a large performance hall and relocation of mural by Diego Rivera into the building. The mural is currently in the lobby of the aging Diego Rivera Theater on campus.

“It felt like a victory for the college,” said Trustee John Rizzo, who proposed the project in a resolution with Vice President Brigitte Davila. “After just struggling to fight to stay open, it was great to have this victory, we’re moving forward and we’re moving upward.”

Trustee Rafael Mandelman abstained from voting on the proposal because he was “not in a position to make an informed decision,” he said in an interview Friday.

“I believe in the project but I was uncomfortable with the process,” Mandelman said.

The board asked administrators to look into building a performing arts center last year, according to Mandelman. That presentation to the board is scheduled to take place at the next board meeting March 23.

“I don’t have an understanding — although I imagine I will in two weeks — how we might structure this project,” Mandelman said.

Under the resolution, administrators will use most of the $47 million set aside for the project from previous bonds to build a large performance hall. The college will then have to seek out private funds or additional state money to build two more theaters and classrooms.

The entire project is expected to cost in the ballpark of $100 million, according to Rizzo.

The performing arts center has been dreamed of for decades and nearly came into fruition in 2012, but the college suspended plans to build the project when CCSF’s accreditor threatened to revoke its accreditation.

The accreditation crisis ended for CCSF in January, when the Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges renewed its accreditation for another seven years.

The trustees gave administrators until September to have an architect propose plans for the project.

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