UC Law SF builds a 656-unit academic village in the Tenderloin

Complex will house students from six local colleges, plus retail and classroom space

University of California College of Law Chancellor & Dean David Faigman and a rendering of 198 McAllister Street (Getty, UC Hastings, University of California College of Law)
University of California College of Law Chancellor & Dean David Faigman and a rendering of 198 McAllister Street (Getty, UC Hastings, University of California College of Law)

The University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, is developing an academic village with more than 650 student apartments in the Tenderloin.

The former UC Hastings is building the 14-story, 656-unit student-housing complex at 198 McAllister Street, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. It replaces a concrete classroom building. 

The mixed-use complex, to be called Academe at 198, aims to provide student housing for six college campuses and increase neighborhood safety, which declined during the pandemic. The law school and four local groups had sued the county and city to remove tents from sidewalks.

The 356,000-square-foot apartment building will bring foot traffic to the street, according to UC Law SF leaders.

It includes 8,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and 50,000 square feet of academic space, including classrooms, a 400-seat auditorium and trial and appellate courtrooms for the school. 

Rents will start at $1,850, the lowest to have the project pencil out, Chief Financial Officer David Seward told the Chronicle. The mostly studio apartments will have full-size refrigerators and two-burner stoves. 

The building, designed by Perkins&Will of Chicago, is sheathed in what appears to be metal panels interspersed with vertical windows, according to a rendering. It will contain a fitness center, dog park, study rooms, lounges, communal kitchens and bike storage. 

After opening this summer, Academe at 198 will master-lease 230 apartments to the University of California, San Francisco. The remainder will be leased to students at UC Law SF,  UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, University of San Francisco and the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

The academic village is part of a multiphased development that could eventually result in more than 1,300 apartments, including some that could house local public school teachers.

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The law school, being a state agency, is exempt from local zoning controls and the city approval process. The apartments were financed with $364 million in tax-exempt bonds, to be repaid by revenue from the project, according to the school.

The Academe at 198 is the second phase of a four-part campus makeover.

The first was the construction of Cotchett Law Center, an academic building atop a former parking lot at 333 Golden Gate Avenue.

The second is the new housing complex at 198 McAllister, which will allow the school to temporarily move students out of its current 252-unit tower at 100 McAllister Street.

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The third will be a $90 million restoration of the century-old, 28-story residential tower at 100 McAllister Street.

The final phase will be the law school’s redevelopment of the old union hall for Unite Here Local 2, which represents hotel and restaurant workers. The school will build 250 to 400 workforce housing units on parcels the union owns at 201-247 Golden Gate Avenue.

As part of the deal, Local 2 would get a new union hall, free of charge, and continue to own the land underneath.

— Dana Bartholomew