Nonprofit developers eye 170 affordable units in the Mission District

Nine-story complex would replace a commercial building used for a safe sleeping site

Mission Economic Development Agency's Luis Granados (left) and OC Health Care Agency's Dr. Clayton Chau with 1515 South Van Ness Avenue (MEDA, OC Health Care, David Baker Architects and Y.A. Studio)
Mission Economic Development Agency's Luis Granados (left) and Chinatown CDC's Malcolm Yeung with 1515 South Van Ness Avenue (MEDA, Chinatown CDC, David Baker Architects and Y.A. Studio)

Two San Francisco nonprofit developers aim to build 170 affordable apartments on a city-owned lot in the Mission District.

The Mission Economic Development Agency and Chinatown Community Development Center have filed plans to build the nine-story complex at 1515 South Van Ness, the San Francisco Business Times reported. It would replace a single-story commercial building.

The city bought the former home of McMillan Electric in 2019 from Lennar for $19 million. Last year, it chose both developers to build the affordable homes.

The property has been controversial. In 2016, community opposition helped block a plan by Lennar to build market-rate housing on a three-quarter-acre lot. The next year, residents unsuccessfully protested plans to use it as a temporary homeless shelter.

Plans now call for a 75-foot-tall apartment complex with 2,900 square feet of ground-floor shops, restaurants and community space. Pending approvals, it could break ground by 2025.

The $112 million project would include 62 one-bedroom, 49 two-bedroom and 52 three-bedroom apartments, plus seven studio units.

It will include a community room, co-working space, laundry, a computer lab and a two-bed daycare unit, according to SFYimby. Ground-floor shops will stretch along South Van Ness and at the corner of 26th Street.

There would be parking for 120 bicycles connected to the apartment lobby. The project would include a central courtyard, rooftop terrace and a laundry room on the top floor.

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The housing would be set aside for families earning between 30 percent and 80 percent of area median income, with some units reserved for formerly homeless households and low-income residents with HIV.

The white, orange and gray complex was designed by David Baker Architects and Y.A. Studios, both based in the city. A weathered-steel corner would loom over South Van Ness, while the rest of it would include bay windows surrounded by vertical panels of steel and cement.

The developers won approval for a $4 million pre-development loan in December 2021, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development said.

The team will work to secure the next round of financing in the spring and is looking at a “number of state sources, as well as 4-percent tax credits and select bond financing,” Karoleen Feng, director of community real estate for Mission Economic Development, told the Business Times.

“The challenge with that — which a number of housing developers have experienced in the last two years — is that the state allocations have become more competitive,” said Feng, adding the agency is working with the city to ensure San Francisco projects meet certain criteria to stay competitive for funding.

The Chinatown Community Development Center and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development are building a 160-unit affordable complex at 730 Stanyan Street in Haight-Ashbury at a cost of $1 million per unit.

— Dana Bartholomew

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