A seven-story, 205-unit housing project is being proposed near Potrero del Sol Park at Cesar Chavez Street and Potrero Avenue — currently the site of several old warehouses being used as artist space. 

Now’s the right time,” said Chris Goode, who said his family has owned the property since the 1940s. “The property is terribly underused, and I support the need to provide housing in the city since I’ve owned the property for so long.” 

Per the plans, the project at 1458 San Bruno Ave. would include 122 studios and 83 two-bedroom units. Because Goode is invoking California’s Density Bonus Program, which allows developers to add height to projects and incorporate the state’s affordable requirement, only 11 percent (or 23) of the units will be affordable. The city’s affordable requirement is currently around 18 percent. At present, the plans do not include ground-floor retail space. 

The estimated project cost is $35 million. The plans were submitted via a “preliminary” application last Friday. Goode and his team must do community outreach before the project can be formally proposed. 

Goode said the tenants of the warehouses, at least one housing an artist space, are “moving onto other things” and have “made other plans.”

“I’m hoping not to displace anyone,” he said. 

But news of the plans came as a surprise to at least one tenant renting at an artist warehouse called The Farm, who did not give permission to be named. “I have a knot in my stomach right now,” the artist wrote in an email upon hearing the news from Mission Local.  

An adjacent parcel once housed The Farm (the current Farm’s namesake), a community center that kept farm animals and an art gallery, as well as a sometimes unruly punk rock venue that hosted big names like the Dead Kennedys and Faith No More. In 1987, a purported dispute between Farm’s operators and Goode’s mother — Marilyn Goode, still an owner of the property — resulted in The Farm’s eviction.  

“I’m not a developer,” said Goode, a New York-based film producer, by phone. “It’s the beginning of what I’m told is a long process.” 

The road to approval for any housing project in the Mission District can, indeed, be a protracted affair. This development might have a similar trajectory: Neighborhood activists have, in the past, fought the elimination of warehouse space — dubbed “production, distribution and repair” (PDR) — for which the land is currently zoned. Activists have also fought projects with low affordable-housing percentages. 

A 60-unit development at 14th and Stevenson received its entitlements in late July, five years after it was proposed and following many back-and-forths with activists. It will include eight below-market-rate units, or 13 percent. It was appealed in August. 

A 75-unit project on the site of the “historic” Wash Club Laundromat at 25th and Mission was approved in October 2018, but only after an ugly five-year battle between its developer, Robert Tillman, and community activists. Tillman would not increase his affordable housing percentage from 11 percent or make other concessions. He sold the entitled land in April for $13.5 million. No construction has begun on the property. 

Even after market-rate projects receive approval, they languish.

A 134-unit project at 1515 South Van Ness Ave., which was proposed in 2014, received final approval in 2017. This was after the developer, Lennar Multifamily Communities, reached an agreement with community members. It upped its affordable percentage to 25 percent, said it would donate $1 million to a “cultural stabilization fund” and lease 700 square feet of workshop space at 50 percent of market value. Lennar dropped the project in June and sold the property to the city for affordable housing development.

A market-rate project at 2675 Folsom St. received approval in May 2017 after developer Axis Development agreed to 27 percent affordable housing, plus agreeing to rent 5,200 square feet of ground-floor space to nonprofits for 55 years for $1 a year. The developers pulled out last July

High construction costs are believed to be a major contributing factor. 

“I find it disheartening,” Goode said of resistance to market-rate development in the Mission, indicating that he’d be willing to make a deal with community members. “The city needs as much housing as possible.”  

Early sketch of the project near Potrero Del Sol Park. Courtesy of Goulde Evans.