Plans for empty lot at 22nd and Mission. Plans drafted by Ian Birchall and Associates.

A nine-story, 129-unit building has been proposed for the empty lot at the corner of 22nd and Mission streets — the site of a 2015 blaze that killed one person, displaced some 60 others and left the site an empty crater.

The property owner, Hawk Lou, has not sold the property. He told Mission Local that he submitted the plans for the proposed building and is open to selling the land or taking out a construction loan and building it himself. “Anything can happen,” he said.

Lou said he is “not excited at all” over the proposal, even though he submitted it, because of all that has transpired — the death, displaced residents, and litigation — in the three years since the fire.

Lou declined to comment further, citing the ongoing litigation.

Per the plans submitted on Oct. 8 and drafted by Ian Birchall and Associates, 24 of the units would be affordable and 11 of those would be “very-low-income,” meaning 50 percent of the area’s median income ($41,450 for a single person). The project would include four ground-floor retail spaces totaling 6,402 square feet. It would also include 29 parking spaces and 121 bicycle spots.

Those plans depend on whether Lou invokes California’s density bonus law, which allows builders to add height and density to a project in exchange for more affordably priced units. In this case, the 11 very-low-income units.

Other plans — a 7-story, 94-unit building — have also been submitted if the density bonus law is not used. That proposal would also include 24 affordable units, although they would be more expensive.

The Mission Economic Development Agency had been eyeing the site, but its offer “was not accepted by the owner,” according to Christopher Gil, a MEDA spokesperson.

This publication was a tenant of the building at the time of the Jan. 28, 2015, fire — a 4-alarm blaze that gutted the historic building and left it derelict until its demolition in 2016. It’s unclear if the building’s tenants will have a right to return if and when the project is built.


Photo by George Lipp.
Residents of the building at 22nd and Mission look on at burnt building. Photo by Daniel Hirsch.
Popeyes at 22nd and Mission. Photo by Lydia Chavez.
Mission and 22nd streets. Photo by Daniel Mondragón.
Plans for empty lot at 22nd and Mission. Plans drafted by Ian Birchall and Associates.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. I guess we will have to wait many more years until this development to get built. In the mean time the eyesore and empty lot will stick around to collect trash and water as building expenses and fee make any development even more unattainable. Hillary or London can you help?

  2. This building should have never burned down. Ditto to the big blaze at Columbus and Union. As much as I despise Peskin he was spot on in his critisism of the Chief. I watched the whole thing at 22nd St. How long did it take the overhead water rigs shown in the photos to arrive, hours? Not SFFD’s finest hour other than the fact there wasn’t more fatalities. How about the City buy up this property and build a park – closing it at night of course. Other than that the current owner should sit on it for five years because most certainly height limits will climb much higher in years to come. Let’s make that nine stories nineteen.

  3. Will the affordable units rehouse the people displaced by the fire? Will the ground floor commercial space be affordable for displaced Mission District serving businesses?

  4. People tend to suspect arson when old, run down buildings with tons of rent controlled tenants burn to the ground. The only conspiracy is the owners don’t want to keep up their buildings. That’s indeed why this one burned down and killed someone. And then burned again and again! Costing tax payers and the city money to solve the issue and putting people’s lives at risk.

    There ought to be some kind of a regulation that says, if a landlord lets a building fall into such neglect that a fire destroys it, that piece of land can NEVER have for-profit housing development.

  5. The UN report on climate change says that sustainable development like higher density on mass transit lines will help reduce carbon emissions from automobiles. If this type of development is stopped it will only force more people to commute long distances and adding to greenhouse gasses when we are nearing the tipping point of runaway temperature rise beyond 1.5 degrees that can destroy most life on the planet.

  6. It appears that the owner/developer is considering two development options — one utilizing the State Density Bonus Law and other not utilizing the State Law.

    This developer definitely sounds like a neophyte; as there really is no option anymore in SF — especially the Mission where extortionist/nativist gorups like MEDA, United to Save the Mission and Calle 24 are on the prowl.

    It would be idiocy for him not to invoke the overriding State Law as, at a minimum, it will give him invaluable legal protections, massively streamline the dysfunctional local entitlement process, cut through an inordinate amount of local nonsense and increase the yield on his property to boot.

    Dont be a Putz! Use the State Density Bonus Law!

    1. Invoking the density bonus law means spending a lot more money to develop the larger property. Not everyone wants to take on more of an economic burden to satisfy the market. Some developers probably would prefer to live within their means. This idea may be foreign to some people, but, it is advisable.

  7. I wish it looked a little more interesting and typical for the city, but we desperately need new housing down in the Mission to keep rents in check, so I’m in favor.