South San Francisco OKs sale of site of planned affordable senior housing project

An architecture firm plans to preserve and occupy the site’s old firehouse, while Eden Housing aims to build 82 below-market-rate units next to the existing structure

South San Francisco OKs sale of site of planned affordable senior housing project
An artist’s illustration of the mixed-use project planned for the old firehouse site and Linda Mandolini, president of Eden Housing (City of South San Francisco, Eden Housing)

South San Francisco authorized the sale of a historic firehouse and a vacant lot next door, where an affordable housing developer plans to build 82 below-market-rate units for seniors.

“We are not only preserving history by maintaining the old central fire station, but also creating a significant affordable housing development for our senior citizens,” South San Francisco Mayor Mark Addiego said in a statement to the Daily Journal. “Certainly a win-win for our residents and for honoring our city’s past.”

The City Council last week approved purchase and sale agreements with Eden Housing and Group 4 Architecture, Research + Planning to reimagine both properties, which share an address of 201 Baden Avenue, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported. Under those agreements, Group 4 will buy the old firehouse, which sits on an almost 13,000-square-foot lot, from the city for about $1 million, while Eden Housing will buy the adjacent, approximately 22,000-square-foot vacant lot from the city for $1.

Eden Housing also plans to acquire an adjoining property now occupied by a KFC and a Taco Bell and combine the lot and that property for its senior housing project, according to its purchase and sale agreement with the city and the Daily Journal. The project would partially wrap around the existing, 73-year-old firehouse building and would retain room for a fast-food restaurant on its ground floor, although the type of restaurant that could go in that space is subject to change.

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All of the development’s planned units will be deed-restricted at below-market rates, affordable largely to those making roughly half of the median income for the area, the Daily Journal reported. That equates to about $64,000 a year for a single San Mateo County resident, according to federal income limits for the county as of April 30.

Eden has not finalized its project plans for the Baden Avenue site yet. Once its purchase and sale agreement with South San Francisco becomes effective between now and the second week of December, it has about four months from that date to file a planning application with the city, according to a schedule of performance included in its agreement.

The city would then decide whether to OK Eden’s proposal in the nine months following its application submission. Assuming the nonprofit developer obtains the city’s blessing and all necessary financing, construction could begin in 2023 and wrap up in 2025, the Daily Journal reported.

Group 4 Architecture, meanwhile, plans to use the existing firehouse as its new headquarters and register it as a historic structure. The firm is now based in a building that’s a two-minute walk northwest from the firehouse, which served as the city’s main one until 2006, according to the Daily Journal.

[San Mateo Daily Journal] — Matthew Niksa