Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Housing project related to LGBT seniors still coming, agency director insists

Construction on a housing development welcoming to LGBT seniors in the Lower Haight still has not begun, but the head of a key agency involved with the project insists the development will still happen.

Openhouse, the San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to LGBT senior housing issues, has planned for years to build affordable senior housing at 55 Laguna Street.

In a March 2009 e-mail, Seth Kilbourn, Openhouse’s executive director, wrote, “We hope to begin [construction] by fall 2010.”

But this week’s newsletter from Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi mentioned murals that are being painted on boundary walls near the site. The mural project would seem to indicate that no major construction would be happening at the site, which is near the LGBT Community Center, any time soon. Mirkrarimi had been instrumental in helping the project along.

In a phone interview today (Thursday, November 11) Kilbourn said, “I am not familiar with any murals going up on any walls.”

Kilbourn said, “We are still engaged in discussions with the master developer and the University of California, which owns the site, to proceed with development. Those discussions are ongoing, and we hope to have a more detailed development timeline very shortly.”

AF Evans, the project’s development company, announced last March that they’d filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But the company had said they’d continue working with Openhouse. At the time, Kilbourn said in a statement that the development would be “minimally impacted.”

Art Evans, the development company’s CEO, had stated, “Our filing will not affect our efforts on the project.” A Chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a reorganization plan in order to survive and pay creditors over time.

Kilbourn said today that the developer is still AF Evans, in partnership with Wood Partners. Wood Partners is fairly new to the project, but Kilbourn wouldn’t say what the arrangement between the two companies is.

“That’s between AF Evans and Wood Partners,” he said. “I couldn’t comment on that.”

Asked if Wood Partners joined the project as a result of AF Evans’s bankruptcy last year, Kilbourn said, “They were brought in to take a look at the private development part of the project, and they have decided to take on that part of the project.”

As far as when construction would begin, Kilbourn said, “Discussions are ongoing. I can’t really give a time line right now.”

Reminded today about the fall 2010 construction start that had been hoped for, Kilbourn asked, “What was going to happen this fall?” He said he was sure there’d been a miscommunication.

“Development in San Francisco takes a long time,” he said. He added that discussions with the developers and the Mayor’s Office on Housing are continuing.

“We are very encouraged about the progress, and will have a more definitive development plan very shortly,” said Kilbourn. He said he couldn’t be more specific on the timeline.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors essentially cleared the way for the development, which would include at least 88 units of affordable senior housing, in April 2008, after a process that went on for more than four years. Housing activists and elected officials had pushed for more affordability in the project. The site for the development housed the former UC Berkeley Extension campus.

Kilbourn said the design plans for the housing development haven’t changed.

For more information about the project, visit

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 11, 2010 @ 4:15 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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