A compromise may be in the works that could prevent a complete closure of San Francisco’s beloved and decades-old Flower Mart, according to an attorney for the Academy of Art, which has plans to buy the site for new sculpture studios.
On Friday, city and state leaders flexed their political muscle at a Friday afternoon rally to protest the deal, which has already led to eviction notices being sent to 30 small business owners.
“It’s about a way of life that has gone on for almost a hundred years with people growing the flowers and bringing them here,” Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said. “This is an institution that tourists come to see. It really must be saved.”
State Sen. Leland Yee and District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu also attended the protest, held at the Flower Mart, located at Sixth and Brannan streets,
Peskin introduced legislation this week that would extend a 45-day moratorium on permit changes at the Flower Mart site he championed in December to two years. The
legislation will be voted on by the board’s Land Use and Economic Committee on Jan. 28, with a vote by the full board the following day.
“We do not have the power to prevent this transaction from happening. I can say with great confidence that we can prevent the land uses that the Academy of Art wants for the site,” Peskin said.
The academy is in escrow to purchase half of the flower mart property. An attorney for the academy, Neil Eisenberg, said the school will not walk way from the deal, but would be willing to strike a compromise that would create a mixture of flowers and sculpture.
“Almost every Asian garden has sculpture. I think the two uses can co-exist,” Eisenberg said, adding that he will present such proposal to the concerned politicians early next week.
Mike Ferro, owner of Fantastico, a business next door to the Flower Mart, said he did not want to lose the Flower Mart and also worried about the impact it would have on his own business. “The flower market is one of the biggest draws south of market,” he said.