The landscape near Potrero Del Sol Park

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.”  

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

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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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8 Comments

  1. The critical difference between Mr. Goode’s propose project and Mr. Tillman’s project at Mission & 25th and all the other projects mentioned in this article is that Mr. Goode’s and Mr. Tillman’s projects are State Density Bonus Projects AND as opposed to the project sponsors at 14th & Stevenson, Mr. Tillman ultimately refused to negotiate with the neighborhood extortionists.

    The sponsors of the 14th & Stevenson project made the mistake of seeking to negotiate in good faith with these groups and it caused enormous delays in their approval process. I would advise Mr. Goode to hold firm not make the same mistake. Go for the maximum density bonus per State Law, treat any potential “Prop K” shadow issue as simply another Waiver under the State Law and don’t give an inch of daylight to these manifestly bad-faith groups.

    That being said, I would propose meeting individually with the artists working on the property and see if you can help them out and somehow find a way to incorporate working space for them moving forward.
    But when it comes to United to Save the Mission, MEDA, Calle 24, Plaza 16 Coalition — those types cannot be trusted and should be given the massive brush off.

    Good Luck and Godspeed — it’ll be a bumpy ride, but if you stay firm, you will prevail!

  2. Did I miss a written mention of the school marked on your photo? That should have been a central topic of the story. That private, progressive elementary school has been housed at the “Farm” site for about 30 years and is a celebrated community asset that would be hardpressed to find a suitable new location. Perhaps you could include them as you continue to follow this important story.

    1. Based on the “Early Sketch” it looks like the school building is not part of the development. The school is in the small, top right building,

  3. The mission is filled with irrational NIMBYs completely disconnected from reality. If developers can’t turn a reasonable profit nothing will be build, people will continue to get evicted as apts convert to condos. 11% is a generous affordable housing percentage. If all these projects would have been built the cumulative affordable housing units would be significant

  4. This project demonstrates why many affordable housing activists and local authorities oppose the loss of local control over zoning and development policies. The new state bills that override local government authority have lowered the bar for developers by requiring less affordable housing to quality for the state deals. By lowering the bar, our state representatives have removed many of the options to negotiate better deals for higher percentages of affordable housing. Many people feel our representatives have failed to represent the communities they claim to serve. In this case the developer chose to build 11% affordable instead of 18% affordable housing. You do the math and figure out what they would have meant for many of the deals made one the last few years and what it will mean in terms of the imbalance in affordable housing going forward.

    If you want to stop on of the most difficult bills siting on the governor’s desk right now, follow the directions here and let the governor know that you oppose SB 330:

    Stop SB330: Tell the Governor to not sign the bill. If you haven’t done so yet, there is a link to SB 330. You may easily weigh in on your feelings about the bill. that removes local control over development in our communities. https://www.livablecalifornia.org/write-now-to-gov-newsom-to-veto-sb-330-an-atm-for-developers/

    1. If you’re tired of the dysfuntional, hyper-local, extortive anti-housing NIMBY policies that have plagued this town, the Bay Area and coastal California for the better part of 40+ years, thus leading directly to the present housing shortage and runaway housing costs then by all means do as “Sebra Leaves” implores you to do — i.e., contact the Governor — but then ask him to do what he promised to do — ASK GOVERNOR NEWSOM SUPPORT PRO-HOUSING POLICIES LIKE SB-330 and SIGN SB-330 INTO LAW!

  5. $35M for 205 units? That’s $170,000 average per unit. Obviously, $35M isn’t serious and just pulled out of thin air. Tells me the owner isn’t serious enough to even pay for a professional cost estimate.

    Clearly, the property owner has no intention or capability to manage a development project. His statement that “The City needs as much housing as possible” is a YIMBY dog whistle to exert political pressure on elected officials. The application is a negotiating tactic to increase the purchase price of a eventual sale to the City. While politicians face regular election, the owner is no hurry. The property, assessed at $420,000 is a cash cow.

    1. Q: And how many apartment buildings as “Not A Native” developed?

      A: None.

      Perhaps “Not A Native” should change their moniker to “Not A Developer” or “Hasn’t A Clue”.

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