The Dogpatch Continues to Flourish and Evolve as a Destination Arts Neighborhood

The Minnesota Street project will be a refuge for San Francisco's arts community.

If the performance artist Marina Abramovic was looking for warehouse space in San Francisco, Dogpatch would be an obvious choice. Bordered by industrial waterfront on the east side of the city, this nine-block neighborhood is home to many artists and their ad-hoc studio spaces. As elsewhere in the city, large housing developments are augmenting the area’s mix of Victorian-era flats and newer live-work lofts. But strategic zoning that protects a range of industrial uses—including the production of art—should help Dogpatch retain its multifaceted, mixed-use identity as it evolves.

The neighborhood’s PDR (Production, Distribution and Repair) zoning has enabled art aficionados Deborah and Andy Rappaport to provide the equivalent of a wildlife refuge for San Francisco’s arts community. They’re putting tens of millions of dollars into multiple buildings in order to offer gallery and studio space at rents well below market rates. “A San Francisco without a vibrant arts community wasn’t tenable to us,” says Deborah Rappaport, who, along with husband Andy, was spurred to take action by the displacement of galleries from downtown. In the first phase of the Minnesota Street Project, scheduled to open in 2016, a concrete warehouse at 1275 Minnesota is being renovated by Jensen Architects into a two-level, 35,000-square-foot facility. “We want this to be a demonstration project, a way to redevelop old industrial buildings and increase the number that aren’t turned into tech offices or high-priced condos,” says Andy Rappaport. The Minnesota Street Project will join 30 other destinations for art lovers scattered across Dogpatch, Potrero Hill and the Mission, which is being promoted by gallerists as a combined arts district called DoReMi.

The new Minnesota Street Project will include gallery and studio space at lower rents.

Along the waterfront, the heavily anticipated redevelopment of Pier 70 will introduce a whole new mini-neighborhood to the area, with nine acres of parks, commercial and retail space and up to 2,150 homes (30-percent of which will be affordable housing). Construction isn’t expected to start until 2017, but what makes the plans for the 28-acre site particularly compelling is the adaptive reuse of three dilapidated but atmospheric historic buildings. Pier 70’s redevelopment will also include new studio facilities for the three-dozen artists who currently work in the site’s Noonan Building. A high-profile team that includes James Corner Field Operations (NYC’s High Line), Grimshaw Architects (the U.K.’s Eden Project), and notable local firms David Baker Architects and Sitelab Urban Studio, is creating design standards and guidelines for the overall project. 

A version of this article appeared in the October 2015 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Artistic License.