Santa Fe Art Colony Fights to Save Itself— Los Angeles' First Publicly Funded Affordable Artist Live-Work Space
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Cuevas
Cultural Institution Faces Imminent Destruction by Developer
Los Angeles, Calif. (June 25, 2019) — Devastating rent raises announced by a new owner in April 2019 are about to destroy the Santa Fe Art Colony (SFAC), a vital artists’ live/work complex in industrial downtown LA. In 2018 the property was purchased by Fifteen Group, a Florida developer. Longtime rent restrictions are about to expire, and Fifteen Group has announced plans to double rents on November 1, 2019, forcing most artists out. “Fifteen Group is on the brink of destroying the last large community of working fine-art artists left in the Arts District. In a city that prides itself on being the ‘creative capital of the world,’ what does it say about LA to have an ‘Arts District’ without artists?,” said SFAC Tenants Association President, Sylvia Tidwell.
To preserve the Santa Fe Art Colony for current and future artists, the newly incorporated Tenants Association has made a bona fide purchase offer — its right under California’s Affordable Housing Preservation Law when rent restrictions expire.* The tenants’ bid, made in good faith, will be a groundbreaking test of the newly strengthened statute, designed to stem the loss of affordable properties amid the current statewide housing crisis. While the law doesn’t require Fifteen Group to sell the property, the Tenants Association urges it to do so, out of respect for this irreplaceable cultural institution. However, Fifteen Group has failed to respond to the Tenants Association’s purchase offer.
The Santa Fe Art Colony was established with public funding in 1986 to develop the creative life of the city. In a visionary move, the City (through the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles) committed to fostering artists by providing rent-restricted studio spaces. SFAC is the City’s only rent-restricted artist-in-residence property and the largest government-sponsored artists’ community in California. For over 30 years, its residents have played a critical role in shaping the city’s cultural landscape and contributing to the renaissance of downtown, now a primary driver of the city’s economy.
The Art Colony’s historic 1916 brick buildings were once an upscale furniture factory built on a 3-acre plot where a famous boxing arena had burned to the ground. The factory buildings now house 72 artists who host a yearly fine-arts “Open Studios” event. One of the longest-running art walks in LA, it has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to DTLA, providing sustained outreach to the public. SFAC is home to a dynamic community of artists at all career stages that is gender-balanced, intergenerational, and ethnically diverse.
The SFAC Tenants Association is calling on the public to take action by contacting these key elected officials to support its purchase bid, helping to preserve this important cultural asset: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Herb Wesson, Councilmember José Huizar, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
* California Government Code sect. 65863.11, as amended by AB 1521.
* Photo, © Wild Don Lewis.