“The Numbers (and Building Designs) Behind the 16th and Mission Project”

SF Business Times, January 30, 2015

If you've hopped off BART at 16th and Mission Streets lately — or, better yet, if you live in the area — then the new renderings of the 10-story apartment building slated to be built there are a bit shocking.

The 1979 Mission St. design by Skidmore Owings & Merrill ( first posted by Socketsite yesterday) isn't the problem. New designs just provide more visual ammunition for neighborhood groups who have rallied against the project. The coalition of Mission groups — who fear the rising rents, potential displacement and loss of neighborhood culture — call it the " monster in the Mission."

Beyond the rhetoric and the renderings, housing data shows why developer Maximus Real Estate Partners may have a big fight on its hands when the Planning Commission decides on approvals later this year. The environmental impact report has already started, a project spokesman said.

Here are the numbers to know to understand this project. One thing seems clear, Maximus is probably going to have to propose a big increase in affordable units if it wants approvals:

345: That's the number of total units Maximus is proposing on the project, making it the largest housing development in the Mission in at least the last two decades, according to data from the Mayor's Office of Housing.

The high-stakes project has stoked gentrification fears in a neighborhood that just saw the white population surpass the Hispanic population for the first time in more than three decades, according to census data.

The location brings even more attention. The 16th Street BART station plaza looks in dire need of a cleanup to many. But many poor residents who live in some of the nearby single-room occupancy hotels, or the homeless, spend chunks of their days by the station. That, in part, makes it "ground zero" for development fights, said Eric Tao of AGI Capital.



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AGI Capital built the second-biggest Mission project in recent memory, the 242-unit Vara complex, a block away on 15th Street a few years ago, so Tao has come to understand the neighborhood's culture.

"You and I look at 16th and Mission and say, 'Wow this place needs to be cleaned up,' " he said. "A lot of Mission advocates feel that plaza is their open space. It's their park. It's where people congregate. It has way more meaning to them."

7.1 percent: That's the percentage of affordable housing units that have received approvals in the Mission compared to market-rate units – and it's pretty dismal. Nearly 500 units are entitled and waiting to finish in total, but only 34 affordable units built as a result of projects' inclusionary housing requirements have been entitled. This broader neighborhood picture is out of Maximus' control, but still contributes to some of the venom surrounding its proposal.

The Council of Community Housing Organizations crunched that percentage from the city's housing pipeline report, helping to underscore why advocates want to reject new housing units at 16th and Mission that would cost $5,000 a month to rent.

"People in the Mission don't even want to talk about new market rate until we get to a better balance," said Fernando Marti, co-director of CCHO. "We can't have a serious conversation about 16th and Mission until we talk about what's the right balance for the Mission and how is the city going to make sure it gets there. Otherwise it's a site-by-site fight."

14 percent: That's the percentage of affordable housing units that Maximus is proposing to build at 16th and Mission — 303 market-rate apartments and 42 affordable condos on site that would likely be awarded to low-income buyers through the city's lottery process. (The city's inclusionary housing minimum is 12 percent affordable units if they are built on site.)

Maximus is trying to work with the mayor's office to determine if it can earmark the affordable units "for San Franciscans in labor, teachers, first responders, and see if we can put priority on those types of professions," spokesman Joe Arellano said.

"We've been in talks with them as well to see if we can use proceeds of sales of affordable homes to reinvest the money into more (affordable) housing in the Mission specifically," he added. Maximus would also pay for improvements to adjacent Marshall Elementary School, raising the playground to create 12,000 square feet of new space that could fit five or six classrooms, the developer says.

33 percent: That's the number to remember for all major housing projects in the city now that voters have approved the city's one-third affordable housing goal with Prop. K. That number has become the new starting point when talking affordable housing in large projects such as the Giants' Mission Rock site, 5M and 75 Howard.

Maximus' Mission development predecessors also have more affordable housing to show off. Vara built 20 percent affordable units on site two years before Prop. K passed — still significantly more than what Maximus is proposing. The Oyster Development, which finished the 114-unit Mission condo project Vida this year, bought a property that could fit nearly 50 affordable housing units on Shotwell Street to fulfill its inclusionary housing obligation.

It's clear Maximus is trying to find ways to fund more affordable housing and still make its project pencil out.

Read here.