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.