Academy of Art University Withdraws Offer to Purchase SF Flower Mart

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University Officials Cite Questionable Actions by the Seller and Lack of Support for Proposal Among Top City Officials

We truly believed the Flower Mart was a perfect place for a wonderful mixture of food, flowers and art, much like other world class institutions. However, given the circumstances we feel we have no choice but to withdraw.

The Academy of Art University today announced that it is no longer seeking to purchase a portion of the San Francisco Flower Mart property.

"While we are extremely disappointed that we could not make this work, for the university, for the city and for the future of the Flower Mart and its tenants, we are pleased we have reached a new partnership and level of cooperation with the City and County of San Francisco," Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens said. "We truly believed the Flower Mart was a perfect place for a wonderful mixture of food, flowers and art, much like other world class institutions. However, given the circumstances we feel we have no choice but to withdraw."

Stephens said a lack of support among top city officials for the university's plans and recent, unexpected revelations by Flower Mart owners made it impossible for the university to move ahead with the purchase. The university is not providing details about its negotiations.

"It's enough to say that we feel we were not provided all of the information that one would expect and is entitled to in completing a transaction of this size and complexity," Stephens said. "We harbor no ill will, but we have a responsibility to the university to ensure that its financial interests are protected."

The San Francisco Flower Growers Association and the university have been in discussions since last May about AAU purchasing a portion of the Flower Mart. The university envisioned using at least part of the space for a sculpture studio and classes and for landscape architecture and architecture programs. However, existing business tenants expressed concern about their future and city officials requested that the university work with them to find a way to enable them to stay.

"The City has been a valuable partner in our efforts to do everything we could to find a solution. The university went as far as offering the businesses long-term leases, including a five-year rent waiver and free parking for the restaurant and offers of rent waivers for other tenants." Stephens said. "We are very sorry this did not work out. We believed that both the Flower Mart and our school could thrive as partners."

Stephens expressed gratitude for help the university received from Mayor Newsom and his office, the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission in trying to come up with a solution.

Founded in 1929, the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, is the largest private art university in the nation and prides itself on its dedication to the career preparation of artists and designers.

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