“Mission Developer Puts 90 Units of Affordable Housing in Proposal”
A developer proposing a 330-unit housing complex at the 16th Street BART Station — derided by critics as “the monster in the Mission” — has agreed to fund the creation of 90 units of affordable housing and build a new playground for the adjacent Marshall Elementary School.
Maximus Real Estate Partners said in a statement it would include 41 for-sale, below-market-rate condos at 1979 Mission St., as well as pay $12.3 million into the city’s affordable housing fund. That money could be used to produce another 49 units of low-income housing.
Taken together the housing generated by the fee and the below-market, on-site condos — which will sell for between $280,000 and $350,000 — equals about 31 percent of the total, the developer said. The provisions, however, are unlikely to stop neighborhood opposition.
“We believe this plan provides a way for people at all income levels to live at 1979 Mission,” said Seth Mallen, principal with the development group. “Whether you’re an artist, teacher, laborer or firefighter, our proposal creates affordable 'workforce’ housing at 16th and Mission that can help current residents afford to stay in the Mission.”
The proposed “community benefit package” comes as Supervisor David Campos is floating the idea of a moratorium on the approval of new market-rate housing in the Mission District, which has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in the United States for real estate investors and developers. Just 7 percent of the Mission District’s housing is “affordable,” compared with about 25 percent in the South of Market, according to the San Francisco Council of Community Housing Organizations.
While the proposal will likely win over some Marshall parents who had opposed the project, it is unlikely to win favor with the Plaza 16 Coalition, a group opposed to any market-rate development at the site. The Plaza 16 group is planning a protest Wednesday night at the Laborers International Union Hall in the Mission, where the developer is scheduled to announce the details of the proposal.
Plaza 16 spokesman Andy Blue said, “The developer has not presented the details of the community benefits package to the Plaza 16 Coalition, nor to our knowledge, to anyone else in our community.”
The project still has its supporters, even if it is a “real political hot potato,” said Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, which works for housing near transit centers.
“An awful lot is being demanded of (the developer) in terms of community benefits,” Colen said. “They already have made a major commitment to Marshall. If in addition to that they are agreeing to an elevated level of affordable housing, that is something we would applaud.”
Sonja Trauss, who heads the Bay Area Renters Federation, which works for market-rate housing development, said the original plan — which goes back to the founding of BART and urban renewal — included an even-larger housing tower above the station. “If people don’t want building in the Mission, they have to figure out where they do want it,” she said.
But the 1979 Mission project needs to be evaluated in a broader neighborhood context, according to Peter Cohen of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, which represents affordable housing developers.
“The framework for looking at the community benefits package in this case has to be bigger than this one deal itself,” Cohen said. “The Mission folks are starting from a real hole, an absolute deficit. I don’t know if one project, even at 31 percent, is going to help dig out of the hole. You need to look at housing balance at a neighborhood scale. There has to be a heck of a lot of elements to achieve balance at hood scale.”
The 41 below-market units would be reserved for households earning between $61,000 and $145,650 annually, depending on the family’s size. All of the funds from the sale of the 41 homes would then be reinvested in the Mission to build an additional 49 apartments. Those units would be rented for 30 to 55 percent of the city’s average median income, about $53,000 for a family of four.
Using money from for-sale condos to bankroll deeply affordable rental units is a new model for the city, Mallen said.
“The housing pressures that many San Franciscans are facing demand new solutions,” he said. “We believe this could be a model for development across the city — one that creates a path to home ownership for the middle class, builds more affordable housing across the board and helps to bring down rents citywide.”
A spokesman for Campos said he would reserve comment until after the benefits package is introduced and the neighborhood has had a chance to weigh in.
In addition to the housing and the Marshall School playground, the developer is promising to expand the 16th Street BART plaza by 40 percent and build a “mercado,” where local businesses and artists can sell their food and products. It will also include a pharmacy to replace the Walgreens that will be knocked down to make way for the proposal.