Nine years after Mayor Willie Brown put in motion a plan to turn the 136-year-old San Francisco's Old Mint at Fifth and Mission Streets into a "21st-century mixed-use cultural center dedicated to the residents and visitors of the Bay Area," the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society is scaling back plans, citing insufficient funds.
Turns out it takes a mint to restore one.
In 2007, the Society announced on its web page they were "asking a select group of community leaders to make lead gifts."
But it seems the tycoons might not have come through with enough money.
"We're looking at re-assessing this project right now to set our sights a little lower," said Society chief operating officer Kurt Nystrom.
Seven years ago, Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer introduced legislation to authorize a San Francisco Mint commemorative coin to raise money for a restoration project. That same year, the U.S. Treasury transferred the property to San Francisco, with plans to lease the facility to the Museum and Historical Society, which would oversee an ambitious restoration project. Before long the Mint museum would attract 1 million visitors annually.
And why not? The Fifth and Mission Mint is one of the most historically important structures in the west.
"The mint is an unusually significant
historic structure," said Debra Frieden, who was project manager on the completed new de Young Museum, and had been a consultant on the Mint project. "Because of both its architecture, and its history in the federal system, as well as it's role in San Francisco history, it's considered one fo the top landmarks in the nation."
According to the Society's Mint website, the fact the Old Mint hasn't yet been restored leaves San Francisco with a cultural black hole:
San Francisco is one of the few major cities in
the U.S. without a major institution dedicated to its history and
culture. The Mint Project will fill a gap in the city's cultural
landscape and give the Bay Area a truly innovative 21st century learning
center dedicated to its people, achievements and global impact.
We have the Momentum
Since acquiring the development
rights from the City and County of San Francisco in December of 2006,
our progress with the pre-constructions plans (incl. architectural,
engineering, and preservation plans) has positioned the project to be
'shovel ready' in 12 months or less. Work completed includes key
milestones related to preservation and environmental reviews. Many other
important civic projects are not as ready as we are.
the best time for a vast historical preservation project.
now the right time to restore the Mint?
It is only appropriate that we address this question. Given the current
economic recession, when thousands are struggling to provide just the
basics for themselves and their families, should we not postpone the
development of the Mint? After exploring the merits of delaying the
project, the outcomes suggested otherwise. Our reasons are...
Now is the Best Time to Build in years
Pricing for construction materials are at their lowest level in years
and qualifi ed construction manpower is available. The Mint Project is
twelve months away from being "shovelready" and can begin construction
immediately upon securing financing. Once inflation resumes the project
budget costs will climb.