The San Francisco Chronicle: 5M developer alters project to include more affordable housing

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J.K. Dineen

The developer of a proposed mixed-use development at Fifth and Mission streets has agreed to increase the amount of affordable housing in the project while cutting the number of parking spaces.

The new development agreement, hammered out over the weekend by Supervisor Jane Kim and Forest City Senior Vice President Alexa Arena, calls for 87 affordable apartments in a 288-unit rental building, up from the previous proposal of 58. The additional 7 percent of the units will target households earning 150 percent of area median income, about $150,000 for a family of four.

The amount of parking will be reduced from 463 to 331 spaces.

The changes come as the rezoning of the property and the development agreement was introduced at a meeting Monday at the Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee. The deal will then move to the full Board of Supervisors for a November 17 vote. That day the board will also hear an appeal of the project’s environmental study.

The development, called 5M, includes a 614,000-square-foot office complex consisting of two towers at Fifth and Howard streets, a 400-unit, 470-foot tall condominium tower at Fifth and Minna streets, and the rental apartment building on Mission Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. The developers plan to build an 83-unit, low-income senior housing project on an 8,800-square-foot empty lot at 967 Mission St., between Fifth and Sixth streets, and contribute $18 million toward a 103-unit affordable family complex planned for Eddy and Taylor streets.

In another charge 30 percent of the units built at Eddy and Taylor, to be constructed by Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp., will target formerly homeless families.

In the rental building, there will be 35 units at 150 percent of area median income, 17 units at 100 percent of AIM ($100,000 for a family of four) and 35 at 120 percent AMI ($122,000).

The 5M developers are Forest City and the Hearst Corp., which owns The Chronicle.

“I am so excited.” said Stephanie Menchavez, who heads up a tenant group at the Mint Mall, an affordable housing complex next to the 5M land. “Lots of people are are desperate to have this because everything in the downtown is very expensive. Especially the housing.”

But project opponent Angelica Cabande, executive director of the South of Market Community Action Network, argued that increasing the number of affordable units won’t change the fact that hundreds of expensive condos and a new office tower will change the character of the area. Her group opposes building some of the project’s housing on Taylor and Eddy streets, saying all the benefits should be constructed south of Market street. She said “the city needs to stop using our neighborhood as an ATM to capture development fees.”

“The massive land values of the developers will get from special use district will increase land values all around them,” she said. “Landlords will want to increase rent of exciting tenants or get new tenants.”

The deal is similar to the one struck with the San Francisco Giants on Lot A, the parking lot just South of AT&T Park. Last Tuesday, San Francisco voters approved a plan to rezone that port-owned site by nearly a 3-1 margin. Kim said “40 is the new 30 when it comes to affordable housing, whether you’re building on public or private land.”

“I support development in San Francisco but we have to build for San Franciscans,” said Kim. “When the majority of San Franciscans qualify for affordable housing, that is who we should be building for and not just market rate luxury housing,” she said.

The changes in the parking ratios mean the rental building will have .25 spaces per unit, half of what was previously proposed. The amount of parking for office tenants is also being cut in half.

Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk SF, said she is “happy with the negotiations.”

“We feel like they are meeting the most progressive parking ratios in the city on that project,” she said. “And they are doing a lot to increase pedestrian safety in the area” including wideening sidewalks, building bulbouts, and adding a midblock crosswalk on Mission Street between Fifth and Sixth streets.