Southside SF Growth Continues with New Developments

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Development activity continues in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill, with the modern style and amenities associated with new residential projects steadily eroding the industrial vibe of yesteryear.  Adam Gould, Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association member, is hopeful about what’s ahead, “I’m generally excited about the growth of the neighborhood.  We are on the frontier of San Francisco and there’s a shortage of housing.  It’s a great place to be and I’m looking forward to meeting new neighbors.”     

950 Tennessee

The tree-lined, beige-colored commercial stretch of Tennessee Street, just south of 20th Street, will be transformed by a contemporary condominium building that’ll include  approximately 129 residential units, large balconies, and floor to ceiling, street-side windows.  The complex will be around the corner from Esprit Park, and a few blocks from Mission Bay.  According to Ryan Fay of Zephyr Real Estate, construction plans are only now being created for the development and prices haven’t been set for the units. 

Though the development may include commercial space, the existing 950 Tennessee structure is home to Watermark Press, a print shop founded in 1989 that’ll likely have to relocate.  Mark Swingle, president of Watermark Press, declined to comment on the future of his business.  “I believe in the market and that no one is entitled to stay in the same place unless you own the building,” said Gould, who hadn’t heard about any plans for Watermark’s relocation.  “Even though I’m a small business owner myself, that’s my worldview.”

The midrise condo complex will be much higher than the building being demolished, and is one of several projects in Dogpatch that’s eroding the neighborhood’s industrial spirit. “My sense is that people either love the Dogpatch or hate it,” Mark Fuller, president of SF Modern Condos Project, offered.  “The Dogpatch represents classic San Francisco, so some people either want to get in before it’s gone, or think the neighborhood’s feel is too much for them.  It’s just too edgy and industrial for some people.” 

As far as when the condos will be completed, Fuller continued, “It’s fairly far away.  The developer is just getting feedback on the plans now.  2020 is the estimated completion, but that’s just my guess.  Any time it’s not a vacant lot it seems to take years.” 

Berkeley-based Workshop 1 was the original architect for 950 Tennessee, which is being developed by San Francisco-based Oryx Partners, LLC, a company that also has projects at 1001 Van Ness and 230 Seventh Street.  Oryx is now working with Handel Architects, a San Francisco-based firm that has other projects in surrounding neighborhoods.  According to JC Wallace, Oryx founder and partner, the development is a number of months away from securing approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission.  Wallace estimated groundbreaking will likely occur in the middle of next year. 

Bruce Huie, Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) president, is hopeful about the development.  “We’ve seen some of the initial plans, but not the current ones.  To make the area more walkable, we want them to add a midblock passage.  We would like to see the affordable housing units stay onsite instead of that money going elsewhere in the City.  We hope that more than ten to fifteen percent of the homes will be below market-rate.”

Wallace cited a midblock passage that’ll connect Minnesota and Tennessee streets as a feature added to the project based on feedback from neighbors.  He also stated that the building’s facade will incorporate both industrial and contemporary styles to complement the historic district. 

888 Tennessee

Within direct sight of Esprit Park, another development is underway just north of 20th Street at 888 Tennessee Street.  Owned by the S. Hekemian Group, 888 Tennessee will feature 110 units for lease and more than 5,000 square feet of commercial space.  David Baker Architects (DBA) has worked closely with DNA to engage the community in the design process and chose features to blend with the historic district’s industrial roots.  

“We’ve had a lot of great feedback from the DNA and they seem very happy about this development.  It’s nice to have a collaborative effort,” said David Baker, DBA founder.  “Residents wanted to see more active commercial space and we added that.  We also moved parking off of 20th to make way for emergency vehicles and provide clear access down that street.  We’re also doing a “green alley” with Fletcher Studio that will be a pedestrianized alley featuring landscaping and benches on the side.  It’ll be curb-less and still have vehicle access.  It’s going to be pretty nifty. Also, we’re gearing up for a potential restaurant on the corner by extending the sidewalk to accommodate tables.” 

When asked about affordable housing for the complex Baker, responded, “Yes, there’s a percentage of affordable housing and it’s a non-controversial number of units that will be available at below-market rates.  It’s a win-win.  We did Potrero 1010 that included 90 units of affordable housing.  About 250 people applied to lease apartments and 90 people who work regular jobs won the lottery, and it cost the City nothing.  We all need to work together to mitigate, if not solve, San Francisco’s affordable housing problem.”  

“He’s a highly respected architect,” Gould, who lives in a DBA-designed development, stated.  “I’ve lived in the Dogpatch since 2008 and go to some of the DNA meetings.  888 has been generally well received by the neighbors.  There will be some commercial space on the ground floor, which makes it relevant to the merchant’s association.  I walk by the 888 space almost every day.  It will be nice to see a cleaned-up alley.”

Construction of the four-story complex will involve the demolition of an existing two-story building.  Baker anticipates that groundbreaking on the development will start in spring 2017, after plans have been finalized and approved. 

790 Pennsylvania

Leavitt Architecture is the designer for a 48,000 square foot development, projected to have 251 apartment units, which’ll sit on the bottom of a slope between 22nd and 23rd streets, adjacent to Potrero Annex.  The property currently houses California Mini-Storage.  R Group, Inc., initial developers of the site, which is currently in the process of being sold, has been working with the Planning Commission and community members to iron-out project details, with construction likely to begin sometime next year.

According to Dan Adams, Director of Potrero for Bridge Housing, the development and others like it speaks to the neighborhood’s transformation and the strength of San Francisco’s real estate market.  “There’s a strong demand for housing,” Adams asserted.  “There was some controversy around the amount of affordable housing in the proposal for the project, so there’s still some negotiation around the public benefit contribution.  All proposed developments in the City have requirements to provide affordable housing units or to pay a fee that goes towards affordable housing.  I love both options.  If they pay the fee the money goes to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development.  The funds are then used to leverage state and federal budgets to build below-market rate housing.  So speaking in terms of public benefit, we’d like to see construction move forward quickly.  We’re pleased about the project.  The sale of market-rate development at 790 will help to subsidize our housing.” 

Representatives from Bridge Housing attended a Planning Commission meeting at which 790 Pennsylvania was being considered, and voiced support for a stairway that’d connect the development to the top of the slope that it’s situated on.  Adams feels that the stairways’ design is beautiful and will provide an important connection to 22nd Street that will benefit future residents.