San Francisco leaders are backing a Mission District nonprofit’s efforts to purchase the historic Redstone Labor Temple, a hub for artists and social justice organizations, with legislation.
Last month, the Mission Economic Development Agency confirmed that it had agreed on a sale price for the near-century old building at 16th and Capp streets. Landlord David Luchessi had listed the property for upwards of $22 million, leaving more than a dozen organizations that rent space in the four-story building at below-market rate rents fearing displacement.
However, a spokesperson for MEDA confirmed Tuesday that while the organization is in contract for $15 million to purchase the Redstone by August 1, a $7 million dollar funding gap remains. A rally and march from the Redstone to City Hall calling for financial help to save the building is scheduled for Thursday, and Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen is expected to introduce a resolution Tuesday backing the effort.
“Appraisals have indicated that there would be $7 million needed for rehabilitation, including a seismic retrofit; therefore, MEDA is seeking by July 15 a commitment of $1 million from The City of San Francisco so that our investors can rest assured that our organization can make the numbers work,” said MEDA spokesperson Christopher Gil.
Gil described the Redstone as “a symbol of the values San Franciscans hold dear, as the longtime tenants support the diversity of culture, arts and more that have long made our city unique.”
The resolution, which so far is co-sponsored by supervisors Gordon Mar and Shamann Walton, does not specify funding, but resolves to support “all efforts to preserve the Redstone Labor Temple as a center for social and economic justice organizations, non-profit service and advocacy agencies, artists and cultural groups by and for the Mission District’s poor and working class.”
It also pledges support in preventing the eviction and displacement of current tenants, which include El/La Para Translatinas, which provides transgender support services to the Latino community; The LAB, an interdisciplinary artists’ organization; the International Indian Treaty Council, which supports traditional indigenous cultures; and the homeless advocacy group Western Regional Advoacy project, among many others.
“Like so much in San Francisco, the historic Redstone Building is up for sale — a tempting prize for investors looking to use it for high-tech office space,” said Ronen on Tuesday.
Ronen added that she has been inspired by the efforts of current tenants of the building, who have banded together as the Redstone Labor Temple Association, to “resist being pushed out and to keep the building as a hub for activism, organizing and services for the Mission’s working class and Latinx immigrant communities.”
“For several years they have worked tirelessly to find a way for a nonprofit organization to buy the building,” said Ronen. “They are not about to give up and it is their persistence that gives me hope. The City must join them in their struggle and pledge our support to save the Redstone.
Built in 1914 by the San Francisco Labor Council, the Redstone became the epicenter for organizing the 1934 San Francisco General Strike and once housed the first all-women’s union, Bookbinder’s Local 125. The building became a national and international symbol in the labor movement, and in 2004 was designated as a San Francisco landmark.
“It will take a true community-wide effort from The City, investors and philanthropy to keep the Redstone’s tenants in place at affordable rents, thereby stopping their displacement not just from their building, but San Francisco itself,” said Gil.
The rally and march to save the Redstone will take place on Thursday, June 20 at 11:30 a.m. at 2940 16th St.