“S.F. Looking to Sell Property in New Housing Hot Spot”

SF Chronicle, April 14, 2015

San Francisco’s Department of Real Estate is getting ready to sell 30 Van Ness Ave., which could pump more than $75 million into city coffers and provide land for up to 600 units of new housing.

The city has retained the commercial real estate group Newmark Cornish & Carey to market the 180,000-square-foot property, which houses the Department of Public Works and other city offices. The brokers expect the property to come to market this month.

The proceeds from the sale will go toward construction of a city office building that will be part of a larger mixed-use office-and-residential development on the nearby Goodwill site at South Van Ness and Mission streets. That project would include the housing and 450,000 square feet of city offices.

The project is part of a residential boom taking shape around Van Ness and Market. Building heights in the area were upzoned to 400 feet in the 2008 Market-Octavia area plan. In addition to the Goodwill project, the housing pipeline includes a proposed 700-unit complex at 10 S. Van Ness, now occupied by a Honda dealership, and a 268-unit development at 1540 Market St. At 100 Van Ness, the Emerald Fund recently opened a 400-unit apartment tower in the former AAA building.

“It’s a marquee site — there is not another site like it left in town, at this prominent an intersection with this height limit,” said Daniel Cressman, an executive managing director with Newmark Cornish & Carey. “It’s a hot spot in terms of momentum. The city recognizes that and wants to take advantage of it.”

Kyle Kovac, a senior managing director at the brokerage, said the 30 Van Ness site will appeal not only to “every residential developer on the West Coast” but also to office landlords looking to tap into demand from technology companies that have established headquarters in the area. They include Twitter, Square and Dolby.

While the city is looking to obtain fair market value for the property, the Department of Real Estate will be under political pressure to build as much affordable housing on the site as possible.

In December, Mayor Ed Lee kicked off a program to transform underutilized public land into housing developments targeted at low- and middle-income residents. The goal is to build at least 4,000 units on public land by 2020, with half of those affordable to the residents ranging from poor to upper middle class — those making up to $116,500 for a family of four.

“The city is in a position of real leverage to expect a developer of 30 Van Ness to do significantly more than the same old inclusionary baseline” of 12 percent affordable housing, said Peter Cohen, co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations.

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer. E-mail:jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfjkdineen

Public LandsNoa Chupkov