Academy withdraws Flower Mart bid

San Francisco’s decades-old Flower Mart escaped a proposed land deal that threatened to put it out of business after city leaders pressured the buyer, the Academy of Art University, to back out.

On Tuesday, Academy of Art University announced that it withdrew its offer to purchase the South of Market Flower Mart.

“We are extremely disappointed that we could not make this work,” university President Elise Stephens said in a statement. He cited “a lack of support among top city officials” for the decision to give up its plans. The university intended to use the site at Sixth and Brannan streets for sculpture studios.

In recent months, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation enacting a temporary moratorium prohibiting new “institutional uses” in the SoMa neighborhood.

Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday repealing the moratorium, which had impacted other university properties in the area, and said the board would consider imposing a special permitting process for institutional uses to open up in the area.

Last month, the university said it was attempting to negotiate a compromise with flower business owners and city officials.

Peskin said that the university deal was a “wrong-headed proposal,” that could have cost 3,000 jobs and 30 businesses.

He praised supporters that helped preserve the Flower Mart, including Mayor Gavin Newsom, calling it “one of the great institutions and economic drivers of our city.”

The Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development deputy director Jennifer Matz said the Flower Mart is the exact type of wholesaler that are “critically important” for the economic health of San Francisco.

jsabatini@examiner.com 

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