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…

March 14, 2016 – For Immediate Release

Contact: Spike Kahn, Pacific Felt Factory
Jonathan Youtt, Cultural Action Network
Roberto Hernandez, Our Mission No Eviction

Community Meets Developer: About The Beast On Bryant
Wednesday March 16, 6 PM – 2815 18th St. at Bryant Street

San Francisco – On Wednesday March 16th, residents of San Francisco’s beleaguered Mission District, the ground zero of the housing crisis, will meet with developer, Nick Podell, who is planning a luxury condo development on Bryant Street between 18th and 19th Streets. The space is the former home of the CELLspace Arts Building, the Tortilla Flats Cafe restaurant and the A.C.T. prop-building warehouse, among other community businesses.

The meeting will start at 6:00 pm at 2815 18th Street, next to the now vacant Tortilla Flats Cafe.

Podell’s project, dubbed “The Beast on Bryant” by the surrounding neighborhood, met with significant opposition in 2015 and was temporarily withdrawn. This project and others in the neighborhood including “The Monster In The Mission” were driving forces behind the Mission Moratorium, a widely supported call for a pause in luxury developments in the Mission. The moratorium was narrowly defeated at the Board of Supervisors and then went to the ballot in the form of Proposition I, which won the Mission vote, but was defeated citywide after proponents were outspent 7-1 by big developer money during the campaign. Proposition I gained the support of 43% of the voters citywide.

Now the developer is back with a revision to his original plan, which had 16% below market-rate housing on site. Now he is trying to sell a new plan to a wary and reluctant community, where he would donate the minimum requirement of 35% land to the City – at considerable tax benefits –  but won’t pay for any of the affordable housing to be built on the land nor replace much of the lost arts and light industry space on this working-class block.

“This block has a long history of serving a myriad of uses in industry, arts, and neighborhood serving businesses and helped define the spirit of this neighborhood,” said Jonathan Youtt of Cultural Action Network and a co-founder CELLspace, a former longtime community arts space on the block. “This ‘Urban Mixed Use’ zone was designed to protect industrial space that serves blue-collar jobs and arts uses. This project proposal does not honor the intention of the UMU zone and needs to preserve the same amount of arts and industrial space it is proposing to destroy to ensure a mix of use for that area.”

The Mission District has been overwhelmed with un-affordable housing projects replacing the mixed-income housing and light-industrial spaces that served the neighborhood for decades in its role as a gateway for generations of immigrants around the world.

Members of the community recently attempted to sit down to negotiate with Podell, but the developer said that he would not be altering his offer of either the 35% land dedication or the four-thousand square feet of remaining PDR from the original fifty thousand.

The Beast as now proposed would plop another 189 luxury condos in a neighborhood hard hit by displacement and gentrification,” said Spike Kahn, who runs the nearby Pacific Felt Factory art studios. “The site could become a real solution to our housing crisis, providing more than 300 homes, truly affordable to local residents, if Wall Street investors didn’t need to make a twenty-percent return on top of the developer’s 10% profit margin.”

Download flyers:





Hi USM comrades:

Attached are flyers in Spanish and English for you to distribute, email, post on FB, and otherwise to your people.

We need at least 200-300 people at this meeting.

The press will be there, and we need a large crowd to tell Nick Podell, the chief gentrifier of Bryant Street, Kate Harley, from the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and representatives from the Planning Dept. and the Planning Commission, that we REJECT his latest proposal which:
– destroys 40,000+ sq ft of PDR space (Blue Collar Jobs in light industrial spaces zoned for production, car repair, art studios, etc.) and replaces those jobs with luxury condos.
– demolishes rent controlled units
– has the taxpayers subsidize the developer, and build his affordable housing obligation with our Prop A funds.

Please reply all to let us know how many people you will bring out on Wednesday 6 pm.
19th St, between Florida and Bryant.

I’ve left the “for more info” blank, for you to put in your contact info for your organization.

Attached are both PDF and WORD docs.  Please be careful when printing out that it fits on one page.


Spike Kahn, Pacific Felt Factory Arts Space
415-724-2055 (voice/text)