The future structure at 1990 Folsom may well resemble this illustration. Courtesy of the Mission Economic Development Agency.

A neighbor of the forthcoming 143-unit affordable housing development at 1990 Folsom St. is suing the project’s developers for allegedly causing damage to the neighbor’s walls and “interrupting business” of a car dealership at the property — complicating the housing development’s rise. 

In the process of seeking to reap around $115,000 — perhaps more — for the alleged damage to the property, Lumberman Construction Co., which owns the neighboring property at 1960 Folsom, has been petitioning a judge to halt construction of the 100-percent affordable housing project. (Already, navigating bureaucratic hurdles required three years of work before the developers in May broke ground.)

Construction was partially halted for around three weeks thanks to a temporary restraining order that became void Aug. 7. Christopher Gil, a spokesman for the Mission Economic Development Agency, one of the project’s developers, called the delay “insignificant.” 

“ … we were prohibited from being within 10 feet of Lumberman Construction Supply’s wall,” Gil said in an email. “We simply worked on other areas of the property.”

Still, Lumberman has been seeking to extend that prohibition, which would be more disruptive. A judge denied an initial request on Aug. 7. 

Dominic Signorotti, a lawyer representing Lumberman and its owner Mike Bonpin, insists the lawsuit is not intended to impede construction. “He supports this project. He supports affordable housing,” Signorotti said. “He just wants to be repaid for the damage they’ve caused.” 

The cost of the project is estimated to be around $100 million. 

MEDA and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. (TNDC) are jointly developing 1990 Folsom, and are members 1990 Folsom Housing Associates LP — the entity being sued. 

The project, being built on the site of an abandoned bread factory on the corner of 16th and Folsom, officially began construction on May 11 to much community rejoicing. In addition to the affordable units, the project is slated to be the permanent home of Galería de la Raza, a longtime Latino arts institution, and HOMEY, a youth nonprofit. 

It is one of eight fully affordable projects in the development pipeline in the Mission. A ninth, at 1515 South Van Ness, could be forthcoming

Lumberman Construction Co. charges that during the demolition of the former bread factory, contractors damaged a wall of the SF Honda dealership’s building, which is owned by Lumberman Construction. “The damage disrupted business at the SF Honda Building and resulted in extensive and expensive repairs,” the complaint, initially filed on June 21, charges. 

Later, after Lumberman allegedly completed those repairs, demolition did yet more damage. Together, the repairs totaled $115,413 — what Lumberman alleges the developers owe it. 

The affordable developers meanwhile claim that Lumberman has failed to factually support its allegations, and that immediately prior to an agreement being reached on the matter in June, “Plaintiff became unwilling to work with Defendants, in hopes of a better settlement.”  

MEDA and TNDC emphasize in court documents that the project — being financed through a complex mix of public subsidies, bonds, and loans — must meet crucial and specific deadlines.

“Failure to meet these milestone dates will have a severe negative financial impact on this Project and could require expensive re-financing, threatening the viability and delivery of this vital affordable housing to San Francisco,” reads a response to the initial lawsuit. 

MEDA and TNDC’s attorney, Edward J. Riffle, said it’s not terribly uncommon for neighbors to sue during the construction of a large development. “What’s more aggressive than normal is the degree to which he sought to stop construction,” Riffle said. 

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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. Julian, it would have been nice to know what kind of damage was done to the SF Honda Building. I’d be concerned too if construction next door punched holes through the wall of my building next to where I was working. And three separate occasions? That just speaks to incompetence. Maybe you could interview the general contractor, Nibbi Brothers, and the sub-contractor, Azul, for their direct take on this? You would think that a project that can’t withstand any significant delays would have been managed more closely.

  2. “MEDA and TNDC emphasize in court documents that the project — being financed through a complex mix of public subsidies, bonds, and loans — must meet crucial and specific deadlines.”

    One would hope that San Francisco would figure out a way to finance affordable housing through mechanisms other than these Rube Goldberg style financing mechanisms.

    If San Francisco had a public infrastructure bank, then the City would not be held hostage by myriad different constraints, funding and target resident demographics, and the non-trivial technical expertise required to assemble the funding.

    Nonprofit developers build to the funding instead of commanding the funding to build for the need.

  3. So, 143 units at a cost of $100 million. Is that like $700k per unit? How is that considered “affordable”? It’s a ripoff scam with taxpayers enriching the developers. It would be more responsible to just buy low cost housing for low income buyers and give it to them, rather than put taxpayers on the hook.

    1. If we use a euphemism like “affordable”, then it simply seems ‘right’ and ‘natural’.
      If we consider that 1/3 of the cost is for govmint regs, then one begins to understand.
      And if we call it what it is — subsidized — then we display it in all its corruption and ineptitude.