This post was contributed by a volunteer.
American Steel Studios is now owned by 11 West Partners, the property manager announced to tenants in an email November 2.
The sale is good news for scores of artists, many of whom build Mutant Vehicles or other projects for the playa. (At least in the sense that the new owner wants to keep AmSteel as an art facility. The specifics of what will happen are still unknown. — ed.)
The American Steel Studios community has lived with the possibility of a sale since 2014 when the lease expired between master tenant Karen Cusolito and the former owner of the building, Maurice Kanbar. Since then, there has been concern that the West Oakland facility could be purchased and converted to some other use than studio space.
News of the potential purchase trickled out during the past two months, as the current property manager made it known that the sale was under discussion and that the buyer intended to maintain the property as an arts facility.
American Steel’s tenants include the Mutant Vehicle Chester on Fire, La Victrola, The Flux Foundation, Department of Spontaneous Combustion and many others.
Here’s the letter that went out to tenants:
11 West Partners
1296 18th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
American Steel Community:
We are looking forward to continuing our work with all of you, individually and as a community, as we transition into our role as the new owners of the American Steel building.
We wanted to update you with some practical information about the project team. Our goal is to make this transition as simple and transparent as possible. As with any change like this, we understand that it will take a while to get into a new rhythm and we appreciate your patience as we move toward this goal.
Ventura Partners will be coming on board as our property managers over the next month. Their organization specializes in working with properties that cater to artists and small businesses. They have been a key participant in recent work with the artists at Hunters Point Shipyard and with the new projects developed by the Community Art Stabilization Trust in San Francisco. Additionally, they have a long history working to support small businesses and makers in other projects they manage for nonprofit owners and those with a community focus.
We are extremely happy that Sally Brown will be continuing in her role as on-site property manager and Robert Caldwell will continue to support facilities operations. Sally will remain your primary point of contact.
We are grateful for the skills and depth of knowledge that Sally brings to this work, and for the personal relationships that she has developed with you over the years.
Over the next few days and weeks, Ventura Partners will be working to answer questions and provide you with additional information. They will be sending a note in the next day or so that provides practical details relating to their role and other specific information about rent payments and other logistics.
Thank you for the work that you do to bring vibrancy to American Steel and to the City of Oakland. We look forward to new opportunities to join forces in this endeavor.
Here’s more background from a Chronicle article from February 2016.
(Top photo by John Mosbaugh)