5 huge housing projects that beat crazy city rules to get built

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When you’re trying to build housing in San Francisco, the city is a jungle. Its intrusive regulations, astronomical costs and myriad reasons to say “no” have killed many development projects.

Despite all this, some projects are still being built one way or another.

The average cost of a building in San Francisco is $440 per square foot, the highest price in the world, according to data research group CBRE.

Labor costs are also exorbitant. A multitude of fees – some city-wide, some neighborhood-specific – erode the profitability of housing projects, dollar by dollar.

The city’s affordable housing rules require developers to pay huge fees or manufacture 20% to 33% of units below market rate in any development over 10 units, though political or community groups often charge more. . And the supervisory board can always refuse a project, even if it meets all the other requirements.

The standard analyzed SF Planning’s housing pipeline data from the first quarter of 2022 and looked at the biggest developments that passed through the crazy system.

The first five are located at or near SoMA. But other smaller projects span much of the city.

The data paints a grim picture of the city’s struggle to increase its housing stock and create affordable housing. When all of the projects listed in the Q1 data are complete, they will only add 4,150 new units to the city, of which 2,098 will be affordable.

And the state government is cracking down on the city’s attitude toward home building, launching an investigation into why it’s taking so long and demanding the city submit a plan to build 82,000 homes by 2030. .

Dan Sider, chief of staff at SF Planning, admits the state has set lofty goals for San Francisco. But he says the numbers are far from gloomy.

Any housing unit helps and the good news is we have a lot of units online, he said. “Some are market price, some are affordable. We need everyone. »

Here are the biggest upcoming projects.

Point Hayes

30 Van Ness Avenue, Civic Center

A rendering of the exterior of a new development at 30 Van Ness (center) in San Francisco. Courtesy of Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Hailed by Mayor London Breed as the type of project San Francisco needs to “unclog the housing pipeline”, the development at 30 Van Ness Avenue, dubbed Hayes Point, is a usual project.

At a time when the city is struggling to attract tenants to its commercial office buildings, this new development just north of Market Street plans to place 333 condos atop a five-story, 29,000-foot office building squares.

It was possible to construct such a building because Australian developer Lendlease is able to handle financing, construction and development on its own, a business leader told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month.

The company officially opened the project, which Lendlease values ​​at more than $1 billion, in September. Its completion is scheduled for 2025.

Notably, 25% of units at Hayes Point – or 83 condos – will be priced below market, more than was required at the time. Lendlease was able to purchase and develop the property in part because it accepted so many affordable units.

Lendlease has been contacted for comment.

UC Hastings Student Housing, 198 McAllister St., Tenderloin

An exterior of UC Hastings student housing at 198 McAllister St in San Francisco, California on September 26, 2022. Building approval involved an elaborate and complex permitting process. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Technically, the biggest housing development in San Francisco’s pipeline in Q1 2022 isn’t “traditional” apartments available to the general public; it is part of the “college village” of UC Hastings College of Law.

Developed by Greystar, the residential complex in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood will add 656 new housing units to the city, but only for graduate students from Hastings, UCSF and other Bay Area universities. Most apartments will be small efficiency units and studios. According to the university, the new 14-story building, called Academe at 198, will also include classrooms, offices, mock courtrooms and a 400-person auditorium on its first three floors and retail space on the ground floor. ground floor.

Academe at 198 is expected to be completed in July 2023. Another phase of the project, which involves renovating the historic building at 100 McAllister Street next door, will be completed in 2025 or later.

Why is the largest housing development underway in San Francisco specifically for students? Part of the reason may be that Academy at 198 had an inherent advantage on construction projects: Hastings is affiliated with the University of California system, it is not the responsibility of SF Planning.

David Seward, the university’s chief financial officer, disagrees that this is a benefit. He says UC Hastings works “very closely” with SF Planning and takes their input, but “there is no approval authority there.”

He says Academy at 198 aims to address affordable housing issues for graduate students, an underserved group in many student accommodations, and to become a “community enabler” for the underserved Tenderloin, putting students on the sidewalks. and money in local businesses.

“Urban campuses are all about the energy, vibe and collaborations that will result” when students from different disciplines live together, Seward said.

1064 Mission Street

1064 Mission Street, SoMA

Construction is underway for a new residential development project at 1064 Mission Street in San Francisco, California on September 23, 2022. Construction approvals involved an elaborate and complex permitting process. | Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Unlike many other developments currently under construction, 1064 Mission St. is not the work of a large, for-profit developer. Rather, it is a joint project of Mercy Housing, a national affordable housing nonprofit, and San Francisco Episcopal Community Services.

Construction began in March 2020 and is nearing completion. The complex is expected to begin receiving residents on October 3, 2022.

The two buildings that make up the complex will provide 256 affordable studio apartments for formerly homeless adults and seniors, adding to the city’s growing portfolio of permanent supportive housing. They will also have case managers and support service managers on staff. In addition, an urgent care clinic and a satellite clinic of St. Anthony’s Medical Center, a federally licensed health center, will be located at the complex.

Potential residents will be referred to the facility through the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing Adult Coordinated Entry System.

The complex is built on land provided by the federal government exclusively to house the homeless.

It is built using a modular building technique, which means individual apartments are assembled offsite and then “clicked into place,” according to Beth Stokes, executive director of Episcopal Community Services.

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The new complex “fulfills a commitment to continue to create new supportive housing units to house a growing population of chronically homeless people with fairly significant disabling conditions,” she said.

Ventana Residences

99 Ocean Avenue, Mission Terrace/Excelsior

A rendering of a new residential building at 99 Ocean Avenue. Courtesy of RG-Architecture

This new high-density residential complex in the Mission Terrace neighborhood will add 193 units to San Francisco’s housing stock, 48 which will be affordable.

It will be located half a mile from the Balboa Park BART station, providing residents with access to the rapid transit system, multiple Muni lines, and numerous bus routes.

The complex will also include the Wu Yee Children’s Services, a kindergarten that will accommodate up to 75 children on site. Developer Presidio Bay Ventures says this will be a first for a housing development project in San Francisco, where most developers simply pay the San Francisco Childcare Impact Fee Fund.

One of the project’s goals is to accommodate young families, who might otherwise struggle to find accommodation that can meet their need for more space, said Kabir Seth, chief operating officer of Presidio Bay Ventures. These families might otherwise have to leave town.

Getting the project approved was difficult, Seth said, explaining that his company acquired the site in late 2016 but couldn’t have it “shovel-ready” until 2020.

In 2019, a coalition of community groups publicly opposed the project, demanding that 100% of the apartments be affordable. The Planning Commission eventually moved the project forward, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

Seth told The Standard that he believes community input leads to better results. But materials, labor, taxes, and affordability requirements already make multifamily development very difficult. When even going beyond affordability minimums — like Presidio did by making 25% of units affordable — isn’t enough, it can derail important construction projects.

“Our project was still appealed,” he said, “and we still had to present it and overcome the appeal before the Appeal Board, following what was already a very lengthy eligibility and environmental review process.”

Residential building ‘Brady Block’

1621 Market Street, Soma

A rendering of the view of Brady Park from Brady Street to the new residential building at 1621 Market Street in San Francisco. Courtesy of Kennelly Architecture and Planning

The building at 1621 Market Street has long been the headquarters of the UA Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. But in 2017, the union partnered with Strada Investment Group to build a six-building housing project, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

This project, located between Market and Brady streets and sometimes referred to as the “Brady Block”, will create a total of 595 residential units. Of those, 103 will be affordable and 96 will be supportive housing for formerly homeless people, according to SF Planning.

The project currently in preparation is a nine-storey residential building that will include 185 units. According to data from the first quarter of 2022, none of them will be affordable, suggesting that below-market apartments could be found in other Brady Block structures. The development is currently under construction.

The union hall originally located at 1621 Market Street was demolished and included in another building in the new development.

Strada has been contacted for comment.

Here is a map of some of the most important developments to come:

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