Arts Impact Investing

In May, Legacy hosted a reception and discussion with Andy and Deborah Rappaport at their Minnesota Street Project. The Rappaports shared candidly about their challenges and victories in creating this Bay Area arts impact investment.


A few key takeaways from the conversation:

  • As the Rappaports have seen San Francisco become a “city of millionaires and homeless,” they wanted to do something to interrupt that trajectory
    • News of skyrocketing rents; Minnesota St. Project imposes rent control on themselves
    • Artists couldn’t get space; galleries can’t compete w/ tech companies
    • In other cities, artist communities can move together to outlying low-rent districts—not possible in SF because it can’t sprawl that way
  • Project components include art services & storage; subsidized gallery spaces; rent-controlled artists’ studios
  • Minnesota Street Project is a for-profit impact investment
    • Support galleries and artists as independent for-profit businesses
    • Profits from the project will be funneled back into it, want to be sure project is sustainable over time
    • Art Services & Storage is the revenue engine for the project
    • State-of-the-art facilities in San Francisco of ~100,000ft3 of climate controlled, cold, and unconditioned storage
    • Also offer services for tech and media-based artworks (including secure, multi-location digital storage)
    • Shared workspaces in the artists’ studios saves space so artists can maximize their small spaces
  • Model for other impact investments
    • Could be a useful model to replicate for senior housing
    • Other cities are coming to Rappaports to try and do something similar
  • Began the project in 2014—was built in 9 months (15 months earlier than thought was possible)
    • SF is very hard place to build—special zoning designation says these spaces must remain warehouses…BUT words for “arts uses” as exception
    • Early partnership with Rena Bransten aided in their launch—“Not only are you crazy—and you have to do it—we’re in and you can even tell people about it”
    • Design and community aesthetic: wanted to keep large open spaces for community gathering, etc (atrium holds ~400 people)
    • As they began the 1275 Minnesota Street project, the 1240 Minnesota Street artists’ studios space came on the market
    • 1150 Minnesota Street houses arts services & storage, Rappaports’ offices, larger gallery spaces, and a private collection
  • Restaurant going in at 1275—an iteration of Alta Restaurant by Daniel Patterson