Mission District activists opposed to a housing development on Bryant Street they have dubbed the “Beast on Bryant” held a rally Monday evening to announce new demands including more affordable on-site housing and the preservation of manufacturing space.
They call their new proposal — which has garnered the support of two District 9 supervisorial candidates — the “Beauty on Bryant.”
“We’re here to offer an alternative to the Beast on Bryant,” said Jonathan Youtt, one of the principal opponents to the current project and a founder of Cellspace, an arts space formerly located in the warehouse building that would be razed for housing.
Activists said 50 percent of the site at 2000-2070 Bryant St. — a nearly block long site between 18th and 19th streets — must be dedicated to the city for fully affordable housing to those making up to 55 percent of area median income, or $59,250 a year for a family of four.
But as important is the preservation of so-called PDR space — which stands for companies involved in production, distribution, and repair. Such space has been vanishing fast from the eastern Mission District and activists are concerned that blue-collar jobs and arts spaces are being lost to housing and offices.
“If you’re going to take away any PDR space, you have to replace it 1-1,” said Youtt. The site currently has some 50,000 square feet of such space that would be cut to 11,000 under the plan by developer Nick Podell.
The new demands call for full replacement of such space on the ground floor with housing above. It also calls for all union jobs in the construction of the site, a guarantee of funding for the affordable site, and a host of smaller demands.
The press conference was meant to interrupt a meeting planned between Podell and a local merchants association to discuss the project “in a more constructive atmosphere,” pointing to a heated community meeting over the project in March. The merchants meeting was cancelled Monday morning as a result of the planned opposition.
“With the scheduling of the press conference, that opportunity for non-confrontational conversation has been lost,” wrote Evette Davis, a spokesperson for Podell, in an email.
Davis said Podell stands by his current vision for the project, which would be split into two complexes: one a six-story project with 196 market-rate units and three below-market-rate units, and the other a fully affordable complex with 129 units.
Podell has already dedicated 35 percent of the land to affordable housing as a way of fulfilling city requirements, but activists now want that increased to half the land. Podell estimated that 129 affordable units could be built on 35 percent of the land, and Karoleen Feng with the Mission Economic Development Agency said up to 180 affordable units could be built on half the site.
With the developer dedicating the land, the affordable complex would be funded and built by the city. Because past land dedications have resulted in years-long delays between the market-rate project and the affordable project, activists said simultaneous construction of the two sites was a must.
“Thank you for giving us the land, but without the money or shovels in the ground, it’s just a bunch of hot air,” said Spike Kahn, the founder of the arts space Pacific Felt Factory and another principal opponent of the Bryant Street project.
Kahn and other activists have been making the rounds at city hall and speaking to planning commissioners in recent weeks, hoping to convince them that the project should be delayed or shot down when it comes in front of the Planning Commission on May 19.
The Bryant Street project is just one of some 30 market-rate projects being actively opposed by a group calling itself United to Save the Mission. The group — made up of activists from neighborhood groups like Our Mission No Eviction and Calle 24, among others — is in the process of forming guidelines for market-rate development in the Mission District but has started crafting alternatives to projects one by one.
The “Beast on Bryant” joins the 330-unit “Monster in the Mission” and the 157-unit “Titanic Mess on South Van Ness” — the two other large monikered sites — both of which have activists dedicated to pushing developers towards higher levels of affordability.