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Academy of Art Settles Over Affordable Housing

January 9, 2020

The Academy of Art University will pay about $38 million in cash so San Francisco can build affordable housing under a new agreement to resolve years-old claims that the institution illegally converted affordable housing units into student housing.

San Francisco sued the Stephens Institute, which does business as the Academy of Art University, in 2016, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The for-profit institution allegedly ignored zoning codes, laws covering signage and historic preservation rules when it converted affordable housing units.

That same year, the sides reached a $58 million settlement that included an agreement the Academy of Art would build or restore low-income housing units. But it never did so, according to the Chronicle.

Under the newly updated agreement, the institution will convert properties, restore historic buildings and pay millions in fines and fees. A City Attorney’s Office spokesman told the Chronicle the new agreement has “real teeth” for enforcement.

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Rick Seltzer

Rick Seltzer, Projects Editor, oversaw special projects and coordinated daily production for Inside Higher Ed from 2019 through May 2021. He joined the publication in 2016, covering finance and management. Previously, he worked as a reporter for The Baltimore Business Journal, The Bloomington Herald-Times, the Central New York Business Journal and The Harrisburg Patriot-News. He has covered numerous business, municipal, government and general assignment beats. Rick graduated from Syracuse University in 2008.

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