Over the past decade and a half Potrero Hill has become denser and more lux. The latest development wave may have started in 2007, when Whole Foods moved into a 165-unit complex at 450 Rhode Island Street. In 2016, Martin Building Company started constructing 177 apartments at 88 Arkansas Street, across the street from Jackson Playground.
In 2014, Related California proposed to develop residences on a 3.36-acre plot located at 1601 Mariposa Street. The project drew mixed reactions from nearby residents and civic organizations; a primary concern focused on the traffic congestion upwards of 300 additional vehicles in the neighborhood would cause.
The Potrero Boosters generally supported the development, while calling for greater municipal efforts to create the necessary infrastructure to support growth. Live Oak Elementary School expressed concerns about parking accessibility, though ultimately endorsed the project. Grow Potrero Responsibly, a nonprofit advocacy group consisting of Potrero Hill residents, strongly opposed it.
Related California responded to concerns by cutting the number of units by seven percent, to 299, raising the percentage of below-market-rate units, from 14.4 to 20 percent, and installing 356 bike racks, with a street-level parking lot offering 100 spaces. These changes secured the support of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition, a nonprofit housing advocacy group, which publishes a “report card” for building proposals.
“Mason on Mariposa,” as the recently opened complex is called, is dense, with 91 units per acre. The Hill as a whole has an average density of 27 units an acre.
Related focuses on “infill development,” purchasing vacant or under-utilized spaces throughout California. The company first emerged in San Francisco when it built Fillmore Marketplace in 1996. It now has ten buildings in the City, a total of 4,546 residential units. These include three recent projects worth roughly $2 billion: The 56-story Avery, at 420-88 Folsom Street; a 39-story edifice located at 1500 Mission Street; and Mason on Mariposa, on the site of what used to be a wholesale vehicle parts and repair facility.
Most of Related’s buildings are “mixed-use,” with retail, office, and residential spaces. In its advertisements the company states that it’s constructing “living communities.” Ads for the Avery for example, focus on residents’ social lives, including shared spaces that feature community gatherings, such as wellness events. Related’s website offers tips for hosting rooftop barbeques.
To secure community support for the Mason, Related California donated $2 million to Friends of Jackson Park. These funds are being used to redesign the open space, including renovating existing facilities and expanding to incorporate Carolina Street. Friends of Jackson Park is working to secure additional monies, having already raised roughly $4.5 million. Renovations are expected to begin in 2021.
Last fall, Mayor London Breed announced that Related California had partnered with Mercy Housing California to rebuild the Sunnydale Projects, located in Visitacion Valley. Similar to Potrero Annex-Terrace, the complex largely consists of barracks built seventy years ago, many of which are in poor repair, with limited transportation access. During the first project phase 167 affordable homes will be developed, 125 of which will be set aside for existing residents. The completed project will consist of 1,700 units priced for low- and middle-income families.