Christian Science church’s group home construction plan stirs controversy

Institution is teaming with Forge Development on 316-unit complex in Tenderloin; critics say project takes advantage of loophole

San Francisco /
Sep.September 30, 2021 02:58 PM
The proposed redevelopment of the Tenderloin church includes hundreds of micro-units (Forge Development Partners)

A controversial plan by a Christian Science congregation to build a 316-unit group home in the Tenderloin, along with a new church and reading room, is now facing an appeal.

The Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, is teaming up with Forge Development Partners on the project, which would rise at 450 O’Farrell Street, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

After the city Planning Commission approved the proposal in June, that decision was appealed by Tenderloin Housing Clinic. The group argued the area already has a large number of residential hotel units and couldn’t absorb a “micro-unit” complex, the Chronicle noted. It also contends the area would benefit from larger units for families in need of affordable housing.

Christian Science officials allege that rejecting the proposed project would be a violation of its civil rights. The Board of Supervisors is hearing the appeal.

The proposed units would be available to households earning between $26,000 and $115,000, and would range in size from 320 to 850 square feet; the development would have 632 beds.

Critics of the development contend it takes advantage of a loophole in the planning code that allows for temporary corporate housing — which don’t have full kitchens — to be classified as permanent housing, according to the report.

A previous version of the project was approved for 176 conventional apartments. Forge alleged that at current construction costs, that development would not be financially viable. According to the report, Forge added that the previous builder, Trammell Crow, was forced to abandon the project because it didn’t pencil out.

[SFC] — Victoria Pruitt





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