Monday, February 18, 2008

Transferring Is Easions



The Academy of Art University has slowly been swallowing up San Francisco since its inception in 1929 by founder Richard S. Stephens, accelerating its institutional real estate buying binges after the investiture of his granddaughter, Elisa Stephens, as president in 1992.



To see how extensive their holdings really are, click here for a map of the 30+ campuses around town. The building above at the corner of Washington and Van Ness is currently sporting signage so bright and neon red that it looks as if it could easily belong in Las Vegas.



Plus, the signage is misspelled and doesn't make any sense. What does "TRANSFERRING IS EASIONS" mean?



The saddest detail is that this building used to house the wonderful Copenhagen furniture store which furnished apartments in San Francisco with inexpensive Danish modern for decades. Now the ground floor is just filled with outrageously expensive antique cars, which I presume belong to Ms. Stephens. Her latest caper is buying up all the buildings at 7th and Bryant and turning them into sculpture studios while evicting the 300 employees who have been using the space as the San Francisco Flower Mart for decades.



The federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed in 1990 and though it's made improvements in life for millions of people, there have been more than a few scams associated with its implementation, such as lawyers threatening to sue over disabled access to various businesses unless they are paid off. Another scam involves sending disabled people to schools for vocational training where they have no business being, or where there are really no jobs once they graduate. That's one of the ways Ms. Stephens became so gaudily rich. I knew a handsome construction worker from Maine in the early 1990s who'd become quadrapelegic when he fell off a ladder, and he was attending the school through a disability program. The place made him sad, though, because he knew the whole vocational aspect was as phony as could be.

11 comments:

Dan said...

The Academy of Art and its acquisition steamroller make me very uncomfortable. The worst thing is that I don't know if anything could or should be done to stop or slow them down. All I know is that it doesn't seem right.

sfmike said...

Dear Dan: There's something very, very wrong with the whole operation, but they spend so much money advertising with local media we're not about to hear the real story.

anonimouse said...

Get over it!

Oh and I think those cars are cool.

Matty Boy said...

I teach at both a vocational school (not Academy of Art) and a community college district, and what I know is this.

The vocational school charges a crazy amount for tuition, pays me less per hour than the community college does and doesn't offer any benefits whatsoever. At least the community college pitches in halfway for health insurance if I work enough hours.

janinsanfran said...

Matty -- I suspect your benefits at the community college come because you have a union.

I've long been curious about the Academy of Art -- it just looks like some kind of scam with its mushrooming campuses.

Matty Boy said...

Jan is right; the union is the difference.

namastenancy said...

I wonder if the Academy of Art isn't involved in some international money laundering scheme. I don't care how much tuition you change and the AA charges a lot, being able to afford SF real estate takes it to a whole another level of mega-bucks.

Timothy said...

Yes, the ever-sprawling Academy of Art has been verging on creepy for many years now. I'm always reminded of my dear sister who visits every few years...every time she sees the huge logo signs on one of the campus buildings she says "Oh, I know where I am NOW!" and then invariably tries to name a nearby landmark, always blocks away next to another AofA building. Thus the creepy factor in my book.

Oh - and the Flower Mart is on Sixth, not Seventh.

Carry on.

sfmike said...

Dear Timothy: Thanks for the Sixth Street correction. I always stay away from that street in any of its manifestations out of sheer timidity, which is probably why I got it wrong.

Matty Boy said...

Quick update: My adorable niece is getting a post bachelor's degree at Academy of Art. Yearly tuition is $20,000, and for post bachelor stuff, almost no financial aid is available.

puck said...

there was an amazing article about the art institute in the loin's mouth. you can read it heeeere: http://www.theloinsmouth.com/issue3/Greatest-Graffiti-Artist.html