Mexican Museum faces further setbacks

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Construction of the permanent home of the Mexican Museum has been delayed again and the predevelopment phase is costing almost a half-million dollars more than originally expected.

The museum boasts one of the largest collections of Hispanic-American art in the U.S., but it’s never had a large enough home to display it. The museum opened in 1975 in the Mission district and moved seven years later to a larger space at Fort Mason.

“They’re current in their rent and on their payment schedule for the money they owe us — and now they’re open on weekends — so as long as they keep doing that, they can stay as long as they want,” Fort Mason spokeswoman Pat Kilduff said.

The museum is now in the preliminary phases of a plan to build a three-story home in a new residential tower at Mission and Third streets next to the Contemporary Jewish Museum, but it requires more funds to offset unexpected costs.

On Monday, the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency issued a $495,000 supplement to help hire staff for the museum and raise money for the new venue it’s been anticipating since the mid-1990s. Those funds are in addition to $280,000 the agency issued in 2008 for the same reasons.

“The museum had not ordered financial statements for seven years. You can’t really do effective fundraising without that information,” said Luis Cancel, head of the Arts Commission, which oversees the money for the museum.

Along with approving the additional funds for the museum, the Redevelopment Agency also agreed to extend the predevelopment phase for another year to July 2011.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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