By Victor Tence
A fourth short-term lease extension was approved by City College’s board of trustees on March 22 at a meeting held at the Fort Mason campus, allowing students and faculty members a brief respite from the tumultuous two year negotiation with the Fort Mason Art Center.
Since the expiration of the last long-term lease in the spring of 2017, faculty at Fort Mason, which primarily offers art classes for approximately 2,000 students, received indications that City College was inclined to close the campus, citing rent increases and millions of dollars of seismic retrofitting as the cause.
The fourth addendum to the lease increases the base rent of the campus by $1,630 a month, bringing the total to $74,304. However a monthly grant provided to City College is applied to the rent, bringing the total cost down to $24,912 per month.
While the lease extension only extends to December 31st, a scant seven months, many members of the Fort Mason community are feeling hopeful that a turning point has been reached in the fight to save their satellite campus.
Written into the approved addendum is the possibility of extending the lease an additional five months, on the grounds that City College diligently pursues negotiations for a long-term lease with the Fort Mason Art Center.
The college has been given an Oct. 1st deadline to provide a detailed term sheet for a long-term lease which includes, anticipated rental rates, term, tenant improvements and schematic drawings for improvements to the facility.
Rueben Smith, interim vice chancellor of facilities, told the board of trustees that bringing the building up to the Field Act code, which mandates earthquake resistant construction for school buildings, is the greatest challenge for the campus.
Smith is currently reviewing the initial reports and costs surrounding the seismic retrofit, and ordering a second opinion from a structural engineer to review the past recommendations. He is also pursuing the possibility of an exemption to the Field Act code, since City College only occupies 24,000 of the 152,000 square feet in the facility, stating there is an argument to be made that the primary use of the building is not for education.
Claire Brees, a professor who has taught painting at Fort Mason for over 11 year recalls the last meeting she attended between City College and the Fort Mason Art Center optimistically. “It really did appear that everyone was trying to come to some consensus, I don’t think anyone wants us to leave. I don’t think Fort Mason wants us to leave, we don’t want to leave.”
Upon receiving the requested documents and plans, the Fort Mason Art center will render their decision to deny or approve the additional five month lease extension on Oct. 15.