SF could get another tower after developer trades affordable housing site for extra height



A stalled residential skyscraper near the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Market Street could go ahead after a deal where the developer would be entitled to additional height and density in return for buying of a nearby parcel and its dedication to San Francisco for affordable housing.

Under the agreement between supervisor Dean Preston and developer Related California, the height of an approved tower at 98 Franklin St. would increase from 365 feet to 400 feet, allowing the developer to increase the number of units from 40 – from 345 to 385 .

In exchange, Related has reached an agreement to purchase the former McDonald’s fast food site at 600 Van Ness, which will be turned over to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. This site is approved for 168 units. Since the Van Ness site can accommodate many more affordable units than would be needed on site, Related would not have to pay approximately $6.5 million in fees, according to the proposed deal.

Preston planned to present a bill to the supervisory board on Tuesday outlining the deal. The tower’s lower floors will be occupied by a new 90,000-square-foot high school campus of the Franco-American International School, which purchased the Franklin Street parking lot in 2012 and tapped Related to develop the tower at mixed use.

The arrangement comes as homebuilders look for ways to make projects financially feasible in a post-pandemic landscape in which construction costs have continued to rise while rents have fallen. In recent months, the developer of 655 Fourth St. has proposed to increase this project from 960 to 1,148 apartments. At One Oak St. – a block from the 98 Franklin site – a builder recently obtained planning permission to increase the tower from 304 to 460 units.

A rendering of the proposed mixed-use building at 98 Franklin St. in San Francisco. The lower floors would be occupied by the Franco-American International School.

California related

While the land dedication will allow Related to avoid some costs, the developer has agreed to pay an additional $1 million to help start another affordable project in languishing Hayes Valley, the 54-unit Parcel K.

“I feel very good about this package,” Preston said. “This will activate three sites that would otherwise be inactive.”

Preston, who often disagrees with market rate developers, said he was initially skeptical of Related’s claims that 98 Franklin is no longer workable. But he ended up being convinced. “They spent a lot of time talking with us — being pretty transparent about the funding and the cost of 98 Franklin and why it wouldn’t move forward as is,” he said.

The master plan for the Franklin Street deal is similar to a deal struck between developer Crescent Heights and owners of the so-called “Monster In The Mission” site at the 16th Street BART station. In this case, Crescent Heights got a taller tower at 10 South Van Ness in exchange for buying 1979 Mission St. and turning it over to the city for low-income housing.

Jeff Cretan, spokesman for the Mayor of London Breed, said: “It’s something we’re going to see again and again.”

“We have a lot of projects that aren’t working economically right now,” Cretan said. “If we want housing to actually be built, we’re going to have to make some changes.”

Matthew Witte of Related California said construction costs have risen 50% since his company completed 1550 Mission St., a 550-unit tower and municipal office building completed at the start of the pandemic. At the same time, rents have fallen. Given these realities, Preston’s legislation “contributes significantly to the feasibility” of the Franklin Street building.

“This is an important first step in advancing 98 Franklin and brings us closer to building a mixed-use building that will bring a new high school and much-needed affordable housing to the Van Ness Corridor,” said Witte said. “As a major developer and landowner in San Francisco, we believe in the future of the city – otherwise we wouldn’t.”

Melinda Bihn, director of the French-American international school, said she hopes the agreement will finally allow the private school to provide classrooms for 400 high school students.

“After many delays and challenges, we hope today’s action will allow us to move forward with our new state-of-the-art high school and continue to be part of the community,” she said. declared.

The fact that 600 Van Ness is stalled and available for purchase for affordable housing also speaks to the lack of capital available for buildings at market price. Last week, The Chronicle reported on a Mission site that had once been coveted by condo builders, but was able to grab a nonprofit for development for low-income seniors.

“In this declining market, with many private developments stalled or abandoned, the city should aggressively pursue site acquisitions for affordable housing,” Preston said.

Under its housing element slated to pass next year, San Francisco must plan for 82,000 units, 57% of which must be affordable to low- and middle-income households.

JK Dineen is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfjkdineen

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