Better Market Street Project Announces Citizen Advisory Committee

mayor_blick.jpgMayor Newsom and Blick's Edward Ogorzaly. Photo: Mayor's Press Office.
On the same day San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced yet another intervention along central Market Street aimed at rejuvenating the beleaguered section between 5th and Van Ness, the Department of Public Works (DPW) announced it was convening a citizens advisory committee (CAC) to help steer the long-term vision for remaking the city's most iconic street.

Newsom joined the owner of Blick Art Materials in a ribbon cutting yesterday for a new flagship store at 979 Market, near 6th Street, and announced a weekly arts market as part of a Central Market Arts District. The new market opens today at U.N. Plaza and will be co-sponsored by Blick, in what the city hopes will anchor a new art and theater corridor. The city pointed to a recent survey by Theatre Bay Area that found approximately 75 performing arts groups in the Bay Area are interested in expanding or relocating to Central Market. Newsom's administration hopes to lure them to the corridor by establishing a $11.5 million loan fund for commercial projects catered to artists and by providing assistance with identifying space, feasibility studies, and other financing opportunities in the arts district.

"Blick’s opening on Central Market and the weekly Arts Market at U.N. Plaza are major new milestones in our efforts to foster the growing cultural arts district in Central Market," Newsom said in a statement. "Blick and the Arts Market will be cornerstones in attracting artists and arts entrepreneurs to the area and continue its economic and physical transformation."

The current initiative catalyzes several trials to bring art to Market Street storefronts that have been shuttered because of a down economy and is part of the broader Better Market Street Project, a joint effort by the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, The DPW, The Planning Department, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which runs Muni. The Art in Storefronts trial combined with the People in Plazas concert series were instituted to fight the perception the neighborhood is dangerous and depressed and bring levity at a low cost. The trials also coincided with private automobile traffic diversions meant to speed Muni and improve safety for bicycle riders with separated green bike lanes and reduced traffic conflicts.

Lest the Better Market Street Project become merely a collection of interventions, the team has recently put out a request for queries (RFQ) to develop a broader vision for the transformation of the street, which will coincide with the scheduled repaving in late 2013 or 2014. The DPW is also coordinating a 15 person CAC to help the multi-agency collaborative liaise with the public and contribute to the visioning. The CAC will meet regularly for three years and will aim to promote interaction between the public and the city agencies as work progresses.

"The Better Market Street Project provides the City an opportunity to enliven one of the most vital corridors in San Francisco through comprehensive public realm improvements," said DPW project manager Kris Opbroek. "The formation of this committee will help ensure broad participation and community feedback throughout every stage of the Better Market Street Project."

The CAC is accepting applications until Tuesday, September 7th, and Streetsblog readers with a keen interest in shaping the future of the street should consider applying here.