CCA to Shift Operations to San Francisco

Friday, May 6, 2016

The rumors you've been hearing are true: California College of the Arts (CCA), with campuses in Oakland and San Francisco, has plans to vacate its Oakland campus at the south end of College Avenue over the next five years.
The historic Rockridge campus, which was fully established in 1926 by Arts and Crafts movement leader Frederick Meyer, is home to first-year students who take classes and live on campus and to undergraduates majoring in subjects such as animation, glass, jewelry/metal arts, photography, printmaking, sculpture and textiles.

Indeed, CCA's website describes it as "Four beautifully landscaped acres in the charming Rockridge district, located just two miles south of the University of California at Berkeley."

Beyond that, two of its buildings have "historic" designations: Macky House, which houses the President's Office and administration; and the Carriage House, used for drawing and painting classes. Both were built around 1875. In addition, the landscaping, designed by Meyer, includes landmark trees.

The two-campus school plans to consolidate on one San Francisco campus in the heart of San Francisco's DoReMi arts district (the overlapping neighborhoods of Dogpatch, Potrero Hill, and the Mission), CCA President Stephen Beal said in a press release.

There they will house all programs and "are devising housing strategies for students and faculty. Our goal is to have approximately 1,000 beds on or near the San Francisco campus by 2025," Beal wrote. Two housing units are projected to open before 2020.

"The future of our Oakland campus continues to be a top priority," he said. "We are actively exploring a range of options, including alternative uses and partnerships with other mission-aligned organizations."

They have joined with Gensler, Summit Public Schools and Silicon Schools to apply for a grant to fund the launch of a new high school dedicated to learning through making on part of the Oakland campus, Beal said. "We are also looking into the possibility of locating affordable artist housing and/or studio space on the campus."

In preparation for the move, they have sold their building next to Blick Art Materials on Broadway, but are continuing to lease it as the Center for Art and Public Life on the first floor and student housing above.

The Center for Art and Public Life "will eventually move, but at this time we don't know when or where," Chris Bliss, the school's senior advisor for communications, said. "Wherever it ends up, it will continue to serve Bay Area communities."

Avenue Apartments at the intersection of Broadway and College was sold in December, she said. "We are leasing back housing there through summer 2018. There are no plans to sell Terrace Apartments," on Broadway Terrace, which houses the faculty lounge and humanities and sciences offices.

A rumor that they have sold the four galleries used to display student art along the south end of College is not true. According to Jaime Austin, CCA director of exhibitions, "We've always leased those spaces." They have extended that lease though May 2018.

The conversation at directly affected businesses such as Blick Art Materials and Green Copy, across Broadway from CCA, was - as you might expect - not happy.

"We're sad that they're leaving," said Behrang Barzin, manager of Green Copy, at 5627 Broadway. "We've been here 3 years. The school is 30-35 percent of our business. People who work here are school alumnae. They stuck it out when Oakland wasn't the place to be," Barzin said. "And now it is the place to be. I know the teachers aren't happy."

Still, Barzin, whose father started Green Copy, said he hopes to hold on to the college administration's printing and copying, maybe by creating a satellite store at the new campus.

At the Blick Art Materials store, CCA student Alex Hentson, who was manning the checkout counter, predicted that "Blick will probably stay. There are a lot of other schools in the area that use us. Half of the (CCA) students are pissed although the school has promised to move every major," he said. Hentson, a print major who lives nearby, will graduate next year - before the move is made.

Editor's Note: Many local residents have expressed concern about the site's future use. The Rockridge News will report on the story as information becomes available.