San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee helped kickoff the opening of the future Tenderloin Museum this morning in the heart of the neighborhood at the Cadillac Hotel.
At the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth streets, Lee joined Supervisor Jane Kim and museum and community organizer Randy Shaw, at the future site of the museum that will delve into the once named “Paris of the West” neighborhood known in the earlier part of the last century for its cafes, French restaurants, gambling parlors, and apartments.
“Let’s bring a light to this whole area,” Lee said about the neighborhood that has more recently been associated with crime, drugs and blight.
He said neighborhood improvements start with the arts and a museum will provide a “way to look at the Tenderloin in a very different light.”
He mentioned a payroll tax exemption approved by the city in 2011 that has garnered attention in the Mid-Market area where Twitter moved its headquarters. The tax exclusion is also applicable to the Tenderloin area, which he hopes will “incite positive investment in our community.”
He promised the crowd at this morning’s kick-off event, “You’ll see startling recoveries.”
The current street-level space in the Cadillac Hotel is rented out by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which is headed by Shaw. By late June, the space will be demolished and construction will begin to create the multi-purpose space.
The museum, expected to open in early 2015, will function as a community space with a history exhibit, café, and hub for neighborhood tours and information.
Events will be held in the space with jazz, casino and other programming to be offered in the evenings.
Supervisor Kim applauded the community-based effort around the museum that she said will showcase the “history and beauty of the neighborhood.”
She called the Tenderloin her favorite neighborhood in the city “despite the reputation that it has.”
She lauded the area’s diversity and the strength of the residents to organize despite economic barriers.
She said the museum is for the residents, who are always looking for ways to improve the streets whether through better street lighting or healthier food and drink options at corner stores.
“We can work together to make this neighborhood stronger, healthier and more positive,” she said.
Once the museum opens, there will be a small entrance fee that includes a guided neighborhood tour.
To make the museum a reality there is $3.4 million budget, most of which has been raised in the past five years since the idea for the museum began in earnest, project organizer Shaw said.
The museum is still working to raise about $400,000, but has secured finances to get the museum built and running for its first year.
Webcor Builders is providing free construction services, while design firm Perkins+Will has given pro bono services, as have other subcontractors offering low or no-cost work on the project.
More information about the future museum is available at http://www.tenderloinmuseum.org.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News