Arts spring up and make a neighborhood cool. Other people want to live there, to be near the artsy people. So developers come to build. Artists end up priced out. The cycle goes on, here and elsewhere.
In downtown San Diego, redevelopment planners more than a decade ago tried to put a stick in that wheel. They helped an architect rehab an old dairy building in East Village, and in exchange he had to provide low-rent space to Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts, an organization that had been presenting the edgiest stuff in town since the 1980s.
When that architect sold the building, the planners held the new owners who wanted to build condos on the block to the same deal. The Icon condo developers would have to provide lower-than-market rents to Sushi through 2031. But when Sushi closed its doors earlier this year, the setup faltered. It’s unclear how soon, if at all, the space will again house an arts group.
We published a letter from a former Sushi board member who wrote to say he was troubled by something in the story: The prospect that the next arts group should present less controversial stuff.
“The suggestion that the beneficiary of Sushi’s lease and vacant space have ‘smoother edges’ is problematic and short-sighted,” he wrote.