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San Francisco's Meridian Gallery Faces Eviction, Owners Say

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The Meridian Gallery in San Francisco (Photo courtesty Meridian Gallery)Still another San Francisco gallery is in danger of losing its space.

The landlord has delivered an ultimatum to the owners of the nonprofit Meridian Gallery, just uphill from Union Square on the Powell Street cable car line: Pay $100,000 by Monday or face eviction, say the owners. That's a full year’s rent plus a security deposit

The gallery mounts exhibits and new music programs, but co-founders Anne Brodzky and Anthony Williams say they’re most proud of the arts training they offer to “the amazing youth,” about 30 at-risk high school students from around the city. Meridian interns painted a mural a decade ago at Powell and Market, one restored recently by the current group of artist interns.

The gallery has raised about 10 percent of the funds needed through an auction and online pledges, but “we understand that the eviction process is going through, and that any moment the sheriffs could arrive and present us with a departure notice," says Williams.

The problems for Meridian follow the eviction earlier this year of a number of galleries at 77 Geary Street, including Rena Bransten and George Krevsky, to make way for an expanding software firm. Both have since relocated.

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The galleries are in trouble because a surge in retail business around Union Square is driving rental prices to “a range beyond what anyone had ever imagined,” says retail consultant Helen Bulwik. She did an analysis of the rental market in Union Square in late 2013, and found prime retail spaces going for as much as $3,000 per square foot. That compares with $400 to $500 per square foot in early 2007.

“The galleries unfortunately don’t generate the kind of revenue that a landlord can expect today,” Bulwik says.

Brodzky says she still hopes to save Meridian and its programs. “We will go on doing this until the last ding-dong,” she says.

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