Beast on Bryant

Opponents blast big Mission project despite affordable housing land deal

Roland Li : bizjournal – excerpt

Activists in the Mission continue to oppose a large housing proposal even after the developer agreed to donate a third of the block-sized parcel for affordable housing, underscoring continued tension in a neighborhood that previously sought a moratorium on all new market-rate development.

The Nick Podell Co. is proposing 199 market-rate units at 2000-2070 Bryant St. and has agreed to donate a third of the 64,000-square-foot parcel to the city to build up to 125 affordable units, which would make 38 percent of the site affordable housing. The land donation is valued at $26 million and fulfills the project’s affordable housing requirement, but the city would have to select an affordable housing developer and obtain public subsidies to build the housing.

“We heard loud and clear that affordable housing is a priority so we went back to the drawing board to find a way to significantly increase our commitment,” said Nick Podell. “We’re excited to collaborate with the Mayor’s Office of Housing to bring a 100 percent affordable housing building to the Mission, by delivering a shovel ready site.”

A previous proposal called for 17 percent affordable housing on 47 on-site rental units for tenants making up to 55 percent of the area median income. The new plan will also include a pedestrian passage through the middle of the block and 11,000 square feet of art and light industrial space, known as production, distribution, and repair (PDR) space. Five of the ground-floor units will be flexible use and allow artists to work and live in the units. BDE Architecture designed the project.

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development supports the deal, which would provide a rare large public site in a neighborhood that has become a poster child of the city’s soaring rents and increase in evictions. Buying sites in the area costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit and is a major obstacle in providing affordable housing. Last July, the city bought land at 490 South Van Ness for 72 units for $18.5 million, a cost of $256,944 per unit. The Carpenters Union Local No. 22 also supports the project.

But housing activists believe that the developer isn’t doing enough and is passing along the responsibility of actually building the affordable housing to the city. Spike Kahn, founder of the Pacific Felt Factory, an art space in the Mission, cited another market-rate project, Vida, which donated land to the city at Shotwell and Cesar Chavez streets that will hold 40 units. Vida opened to market-rate tenants in 2014, but the city still hasn’t found a developer for the affordable portion of the site two years later.

The community is concerned that “this third of the block will stay fallow like all the other ones,” said Kahn. Instead, the community is seeking over 50 percent of on-site affordable housing and replacement of the 50,000 square feet of existing PDR space on the property.

Like other activists, Kahn believes that new market-rate housing development in the Mission will accelerate displacement by attracting more wealthy newcomers to the area, in contrast to some city officials like Mayor Ed Lee who believe that creating new housing will alleviate rent increases.

“I think the new supply is the problem,” said Kahn. “You can put your market-rate housing on the west side.” (Residents in the Sunset and Richmond Districts have said that new market-rate housing should be concentrated in the city’s Eastern Neighborhoods.)

Evette Davis, a spokeswoman for Nick Podell Co., said that the developer would continue to work with the community but no further concessions were planned.

“We’ve pushed and stretched ourselves to be as responsive as we can,” she said. “We want to build housing.”
Roland Li covers real estate and economic development…