A 27-unit housing development at 17th and Mission streets may finally break ground more than a decade after it was originally proposed, though a new developer, the Toboni Group, is now carrying the baton.

Joe Toboni, the elder of the company’s father-son leadership team, quietly purchased the entitled land at 2100 Mission St. — currently the site of the One $ Store — from developer Timothy Muller in August last year. The price tag was $4.8 million. 

That wasn’t a terrible price, Toboni said. But with astronomically high construction costs and Toboni’s commitment to a community benefits package, he said making the project pencil out might be a squeeze. 

You have to be smart in how you build it in order to make it work,” Toboni said, noting that his development company is its own builder, which keeps costs lower. 

The project will likely break ground in a year or so, he said.  

The development will include four-below-market-rate units, which is around 15 percent — one more unit than was required for this project, he said. Toboni added that he’s also committed to renting the 3,000 square-foot ground-floor retail space to a low-price retailer selected by the Mission Economic Development Agency for the next 50 years. For the first 15 years, that retailer will be Goodwill at $3 per square foot. The thrift store has two five-year options. 

Toboni will also fund a mural on the building that he pegs at around $100,000. 

When Muller, the previous developer, inked this deal in July 2018, the Mission Economic Development Agency withdrew a “discretionary review” on the project, which would have prompted a hearing in front of the Planning Commission. Otherwise, the project was “as-of-right” and needed no Planning Commission vote to move forward, according to Gina Simi, a Planning Department spokeswoman. 

Peter Papdapoulous, a MEDA policy analyst who filed the discretionary review, declined to comment on Toboni taking over.  

And it remains unclear why, after a decade, Muller threw in the towel. He did not respond to requests for comment, nor did principals at Harrigan Weidenmuller, his development company. 

Toboni had his guesses. “The Toboni Group feels that with the rising cost of building, the [previous] owner decided to sell because the owner is not a builder.”

The Toboni Group, led by Toboni and his son Joey, is also beginning construction on a 75-unit project at 19th and South Van Ness Avenue. It recently completed 20 units at 606 Capp St., and finished 27 units at 600 South Van Ness in 2017. 

But the project at 2100 Mission St. could be Toboni’s last market-rate project, he said. After it finishes up in the next several years, “we’ve decided to build affordable housing in San Francisco and specifically middle-income housing.” 

Toboni, a city native, said that the focus has largely been on two extremes: market-rate and low-income housing. “We feel the middle in San Francisco is being left out,” he said. “We’re going to lose our emergency responders and teachers. When San Francisco loses that middle, it’s really gonna be a problem.” 

Building that middle-income housing will be done through the nonprofit business he and his son, Joey, are currently formulating. As Mission Local reported last week, the Toboni Group plans to use income from its on-site affordable units to build affordable developments, with matching grants from the tech industry and other benefactors. 

The developments may not be 100 percent affordable, unlike eight projects currently being developed by nonprofits in the Mission. Yet the ratio, for example, could look more like 75 percent below-market-rate, with 25 percent market-rate units “to help pay for it,” Toboni said, noting a high-revenue-generating commercial tenant could also cover costs. 

As low-income projects come online, all revenue will be used to generate more housing, Toboni said — ”to where we could fund these projects so that they could generate income and pay for the next project.”