HAYWARD -- Atop a concrete slab floor and beneath the exposed plumbing and air ducts of a never-used downtown storefront, art is happening.

It began arriving last week -- paintings, sketches, sculptures and more, all done by local artists. By Friday, everything will be in place for the grand opening of the Cinema Place Gallery, next door to the Century Theater.

"It doesn't look like much right now, but I think (when it opens) you will be pleasantly surprised," gallery manager Gail Lundholm said.

Lundholm, who is director of the Hayward Arts Council, has been working for two years to make the space a reality. At first, she was hoping for a 1,000-square-foot spot in the building. But through a partnership with the city and developer Blake-Hunt Ventures, they're getting five times that space.

The city gave the arts council a grant to help with the installation, while Blake-Hunt built out the space to make it usable and gave them a "significant discount" on rent.

While it's not a permanent deal -- Lundholm said they're signed in for six months, and go month-to-month after that -- it presented a good opportunity for all involved parties.

"The benefits are twofold," said developer Bradley Blake. "One is to create some activity at the project in a very challenging leasing market. And also, when you think of the image of an art gallery and the quality of the operation, it improves the image of the project."

Sean Brooks, the city's director of economic development, said it will be a great presence in the downtown corridor.

"It will pique people's intellectual curiosity," he said. "People appreciate stores and venues that give them opportunities to look at art while they wait for a movie, or wait to be seated in a restaurant. And it's a great way to just showcase some of the fine artists in the city."

But no one is happier than Lundholm, who has big ideas for the space.

"We have movable walls, we'll be able to change it around," she said. "We're going to have artists actually creating works here, at the space, sketching, or painting, or maybe doing wire sculpture."

One thing that won't be changing, however, is the unfinished floor and ceiling.

"We like the industrial chic," Lundholm said. "It might offend some people, but I think it's really cool."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Cinema Place Gallery
WHEN: Opens Saturday after a Friday night reception. Gallery hours will be noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays, noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays.
WHERE: 1057 B St.
Cost: Free.