Issue:  Vol. 44 / No. 43 / 23 October 2014
 

Castro area development wins approval from SF planning body

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 4.07.50 PMNational residential builder Greystar has won approval for its 87-unit rental development in San Francisco’s gay Castro district.

The city’s planning commission unanimously voted 5-0 at its meeting today (Thursday, April 24) to grant the developer the permits it was seeking. Greystar has a 99-year lease with the Wong family that owns the triangular lot.

“I think it is a very good project,” said planning commissioner Michael Antonini, who added it will enhance the entrance “to two of the most charming streets in San Francisco Noe and Sanchez.”

Three retail spaces on the ground floor of the development will front Market Street, while residential units will face Sanchez Street. There will be a rooftop deck for residents and a public bulb out with outdoor seating at ground level along Sanchez Street.

“With the six streets that connect here real opportunity to make a statement here,” said Clark Manus, a co-owner of Heller Manus Architects.

As the Bay Area Reporter had reported on its blog last week, the approval had been expected after Greystar reached a compromise with neighborhood groups and housing activists that had initially raised objections to the project at the corner of Sanchez, Market and 15th streets.

As first proposed, the project next door to the Swedish American Hall would not include any below-market-rate housing on site. Rather than set aside 10 units as affordable housing, Greystar had intended to instead pay an in-lieu fee toward the city’s affordable housing fund.

That decision was met with vociferous objections from nearby residents and housing activists who threatened to oppose the project if it did not include the BMR units on-site. With low-income seniors, youth and people living with HIV and AIDS priced out of the area, the parcel offered a rare opportunity to provide such residents a way to afford to live in the Castro district.

Eventually, Greystar reversed course and not only agreed to include on-site BMR units but also adopted a national LGBT non-discrimination policy covering all of its properties. Those actions cleared the way for the development to win the backing of a number of neighborhood groups.

“I am very happy it will bring so called affordable units to our neighborhood,” said David Troup, treasurer of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, which worked closely with Greystar over the last year and a half to reach the compromise. “Many developers choose to pay the affordable housing fee; while that has benefits to the city, it does nothing to preserve diversity in our neighborhood.”

Greystar’s adoption of the non-discrimination policy set a precedent that gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos hopes other developers will follow. In March Campos introduced an ordinance that would require any national developer wishing to build residential projects with 10 or more units in San Francisco to disclose if they also prohibit LGBT discrimination.

It has yet to be calendered for a hearing, however, before the Board of Supervisors. Campos’ office expects it to take place in the coming months.

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 24, 2014 @ 4:04 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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