The empty lot at 1990 Folsom St., where the Mission Economic Development Agency hopes to build 140 units of affordable housing. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

A land purchase to build 140 units of affordable housing in the Mission District was reached today, according to those involved in the deal.

A lot at 1990 Folsom St. at the corner of 16th and Folsom streets — currently an empty fenced-off building — will be transformed into a fully affordable housing project built by the Mission Economic Development Agency, a non-profit housing developer.

The project is one of the few in the Mission District involving the $50 million allocated specifically to the neighborhood as part of Proposition A, the housing bond that voters approved in November 2015 that gave $310 million towards the construction of affordable housing city-wide.

The lot was last purchased on June 30 of this year by 1990 Folsom Investments LLC for $17.3 million, according to public records. Records list Grant Barbour, the head of acquisitions with the non-profit housing group Build Public and a real estate broker, as the representative of the limited liability company in the purchase.

Representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Housing did not return requests for comment on the purchase of the site. Barbour also did not immediately return a request for comment.

It is not clear if the city purchased the site from 1990 Folsom Investments LLC and for how much.

In January, a group of Mission District non-profits and residents met to decide the use of Proposition A funds, landing on the purchase of two to three medium-sized lots to build some 200 units.

Sheila Chung-Hagen, a legislative aide for Supervisor David Campos, said that the funding for the 1990 Folsom St. project had already been allocated to MEDA.

“I believe that it’s already been decided that they’ve won the bid,” she said.

MEDA declined to comment on the deal. News of the deal was posted to Facebook by one of the involved parties shortly afterwards.

“Signing documents along with Spike Kahn today to help purchase the unused factor at 1990 Folsom @ 16th,” wrote Jean Chadbourne, the founder of the arts collective the Growlery in the Haight-Ashbury, in a since-deleted Facebook post. Kahn is the founder of the arts space the Pacific Felt Factory and was one of the primary opponents of a controversial 335-unit housing project on Bryant Street.

Chadbourne said the project would involve 140 units of below-market-rate housing, with a fifth of the units reserved for formerly homeless families. She also said 5,000 square feet of the project will be used for child services as well as arts space.

The lot is some 29,000 square feet and zoned at a 58-foot height limit, according to public records. As with other fully affordable housing projects, however, the developers could choose to break height limits to squeeze more units on-site, either by using existing state law or seeking a one-time exemption.  

The abandoned factory on-site belonged to Earthgrains Baking Company until June and once hosted a baking factory. It has sat empty for years and plays host to homeless people who sell wares on the sidewalk.

Block-long tent encampments stretch along 16th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets, and the lot lies across the street from the Mission Neighborhood Health Center on the corner of 16th and Shotwell streets and another block from the Dandelion Chocolate factory.

If built, the 140-unit affordable housing project would join some 455 units of affordable housing approved for the neighborhood in the last decade. It would sit just half a block from 2060 Folsom St., a 127 affordable housing project also being built by MEDA.

The building is from 1963 and not historic and is zoned for light industrial space known as PDR — short for production, distribution, and repair — but also allows office and residential use.

Correction: A previous version of this story implied that decisions about the project were made in a meeting at MEDA with local representatives. The meeting was unrelated and the story has been corrected to remove the reference. 

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  1. Is MEDA an affordable housing developer? I know that MEDA staked claims on small sites acquisition affordable housing dollars that were carved out of CCHO’s new construction claims for the community land trust. So instead of a democratically controlled CLT owning and operating acquired small sites, the MEDA mafia will be able to exercise unaccountable power over “the most vulnerable” tenants. Delightful. But as new construction, is MEDA now unified with CCHO?

    Why did this deal go down in private, why is nobody talking about the details?

    Was there a competitive bidding process for allocating these funds or did MEDA have the deal wired?

    When nonprofits work on ballot measures that direct public dollars to those nonprofits like Prop A, and the funding decisions are made in secret like this, that is prima facie evidence of corruption that warrants a further investigation. Hopefully Ethics Commissioner Kopp will ensure that if there are complaints filed about this kind of monkey business, an objective and honest investigation will ensue.

    1. Marc,
      Spot on, on every point. This stinks of corruption. Chances of an investigation, let alone prosecution, or even consequences? Zero. It’s a one party town, state and soon, nation.

        1. For the new privileged 1%…. 99% of the rest of us, get nothing, while these get a subsidized luxury ride.

    2. Marc,

      Excellent points. You are asking the questions that Mission Local should be asking. Joe Rivano Barros actually attended the so called “SF Mission Votes on 50 million in affordable housing funds” back in January 2016. The meeting was not announced to the public by David Campos’ Office or Mission Local thus the title absolutely misleading. It was another one of David Campos” many unethical political stunts that Mission Local got suckered into. Apparently Mission Local was invited “last minute” to provide the glowing coverage. Do you recall being invited to the meeting? Was there public notice about voting on distribution of public funds? While community input is certainly critical it it is absolutely crucial that there be a fair and transparent process that properly vets spending of Prop A funds most efficiently.

      While very little affordable housing was built during David Campos’ 8 year term, Hillary Ronen is pledging to build 5000 units in the Mission in 10 years to make up for his dismal record. We and Mission Local should of course be asking who and how is this housing going to paid for and will there be a fair, effective and transparent process for distribution of funds. Under the best case scenario it would cost $500,000/unit which is very conservative given that 490 South Van Ness affordable housing project closer to $900,000/unit! It would cost over $250 million/year and over $2.5 billion to build what she is proposing vs $310 million committed by Prop A in 2015 for the entire City..

      I voted for Prop A but will absolutely not support another housing bond until there is fair and transparent mechanism in place to award the funds and also ensure that long term San Francisco residents benefit from the housing. Now the same Supervisor wants to become a so called “public advocate” to combat unethical and corrupt activity. Outrageous.

  2. There is nothing “AFFORDABLE” about this housing. It’s very expensive subsided luxury housing, for a new class of publicly gifted housing privileged. It’s so very unfair to 99% of everyone else, who get nothing while these few are showered with MILLIONS in public funds !

    1. There is EVERYTHING affordable about this housing. What is wrong with you guys? It’s 100% affordable housing, and they even took it further by having 25% formerly homeless families. You guys are absolutely out of your minds.

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