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Tenderloin food hub project short of funds for construction

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A group of Tenderloin community leaders on Monday urged city officials to provide $1 million to transform a vacant city-owned building at 101 Hyde St. into a municipal marketplace. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Growing construction costs at a proposed food hall in the Tenderloin led community leaders on Monday to urge city officials to provide another $1 million for the project.

Representatives from the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, UC Hastings School of Law, the Asian Art Museum, La Voz Latina and UNITE HERE Local 2 union gathered at 101 Hyde St. Monday to call for Mayor Mark Farrell and the Board of Supervisors to provide the funds needed to begin construction of La Cocina Municipal Market, a branch of a Mission-based food incubator that has birthed female-led restaurants like El Buen Comer and Noodle Girl.

“Everything we love about this community and this country is in the Tenderloin,” said UNITE HERE Local 2 union liaison, Kim Jackson. “We deserve this as a community, we have skin in the game.”

In 2016, The City received the site from the Shorenstein family, who also gave The City $1 million for the interim use of the site. La Cocina, an organization that helps minority women open their own restaurants and food businesses, matched the funds with $1 million of its own to build the food hub at 101 Hyde St., an abandoned former U.S. Post Office now owned by The City.

However, rising construction costs have since doubled the cost of the project to nearly $4 million, according to Caleb Zigas, the executive director for La Cocina.

The building is expected to be demolished within the next decade for construction of an eight-story mixed-use building with affordable housing and retail space on the ground floor.

While it sits vacant, however, community activists and La Cocina hope to turn the current one-story, 7,500 square foot building into a marketplace for seven minority restaurateurs that will activate the corner.

Demolition and construction is still at least seven years away, according to Caleb Zigas, the executive director for La Cocina, but La Cocina Municipal Market cannot begin work on the market project without more money. The nonprofit doesn’t want to go into debt to finance the project in part due to its short-term nature.

La Cocina is looking to its philanthropic investors to match the $1 million that the organization and community members hope The City will grant, according to Zigas.

“It feels like there enough people who believe that this project can happen, and should happen, that we should be able to do it,” Zigas said.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the Tenderloin, said her office would work with the marketplace proponents as The City develops its budget.

“The City will definitely stay involved and we have already been in discussions over the last few weeks in regards to cost overruns,” District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim said.

The Mayor’s office of Economic and Workforce Development did not respond to comment by press time.

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