May 2014

Migrant Mural Obscured by Luxury Apartment Building

Ruchit Agrawal

Recently, a new luxury apartment complex, Ava 55 Ninth, opened in the Mid-Market neighborhood, blocking views of a mural painted by 67 Suenos, a nonprofit, located next door, that focuses on migrant youth.

The space that Ava 55 Ninth now occupies was previously a vacant lot. According to Pablo Parelles, a founder of 67 Suenos, the lot was strewn with needles, and was a blight on the neighborhood. Youth involved with 67 Suenos decided to clean it up and paint a mural that highlighted their experiences as undocumented students. The students took pride in the fact that “even those passing by who were not political enjoyed the colors of the mural,” said Paralles. Before Ava 55 Ninth was built the mural, erected on the building 67 Suneos occupies, could be seen from the vacant lot and adjacent sidewalk. 

For Yoxeli Romero Santos, a youth leader at 67 Suenos, “because we had put in so much work, it was hard to see the message suddenly silenced.” According to Parelles, even though initial plans for Ava 55 Ninth included an open space that would have allowed the mural to be visible, when the building was put up the space was gone. Rather than create a controversy that would distract from their mission, 67 Suenos initiated a partnership with Grandma Deli & Cafe, a Mid-Market business, which agreed to let them use the wall outside their store to create a new mural. That artwork will face a public street, and will never be covered by new construction. 

A banner across Ava 55 Ninth proclaims that the apartments are now in a relationship with Mid-Market. Ironically, as a result of the construction of Ava 55 Ninth, 67 Suenos initiated a with Grandma Deli, a local business, which embodies the positive values the banner hopes to convey. 

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