Oakland-based developers workshop1 on Monday hosted a meeting to discuss plans to erect a seven-story apartment building where three shuttered storefronts on Mission Street now stand. 

The 34-unit project, potentially the tallest structure on the block, would be built where Mission Thrift and Mission Jewelry and Loan previously operated, between 19th and 20th streets. 

Of the units, six will be below market rate (18 percent). Three of those will be reserved for residents earning 50 percent of area median income ($44,850 for a single individual), one will be at 55 percent ($49,300), one at 80 percent ($71,700), and one at 110 percent ($98,600). 

said Mike Pitler, a project architect, during Monday night’s pre-application meeting. The meeting, attended by fewer than a dozen people, is a mandatory step in the development process meant to serve as an opportunity for members of the community to learn more about the proposal, ask questions and voice concerns.

Of the 34 units, 14 will be two bedrooms and the remaining 20 will be studios or one-bedroom units.

These plans are an expansion of the ones workshop1 submitted to the Planning Department last year for the same properties. Originally, the project was designed to build a five-story complex with only 24 units, which the Planning Department noted in a project assessment is “ just short of the 25-unit threshold that would trigger a higher percentage of affordable units per the City’s Inclusionary Housing Program.”

The developers later amended their plans to add 10 more units at the request of the city, according to Pitler. 

“The city wanted us to do more affordability in exchange for something that’s a little taller,” said William Mollard, another developer at workshop1.  

The Kaplan Family Trust, the owners of the three parcels of land that may soon be merged into one, have been in the Mission for generations, according to Michael Kaplan, one of the owners of the properties. 

During the meeting, Kaplan reminisced that his great grandfather had owned a retail store on Howard Street in the early 1900s, and that his grandfather was the original owner of the pawn shop that may soon be torn down to give way to this project. 

In the mid 20th century, the street in question was a part of the affectionately named Mission Miracle Mile, one of the city’s most popular shopping areas, second only to Union Square, according to the Planning Department. 

In order to retain the historic aspect of the properties, the developers plan to retain the current buildings’ facades, with two of the three parcels remaining as commercial spaces. The third parcel, what was until recently Mission Thrift, will be converted into a lobby area for the apartment complex.

Today, there are only a handful of operational businesses on the block, according to Brindissy Garcia. 

Garcia has owned Pikitos, a thrift store next to the planned project, for nearly eight years. She fears that the construction will be disruptive to her business, which was already closed for three months due to the pandemic and hasn’t yet truly recovered. 

While construction on the project will most likely not begin for more than a year, according to the timeline workshop1 presented during the meeting, Garcia’s concerns go beyond the immediate impact on her business. 

“It’s disheartening that there are only six units below market rate,” Garcia said, suggesting that members of the community will not be able to afford to live in the building.  

Now that the project’s developers have completed the required pre-application meeting, they intend to submit their formal application later this month, followed by planned community outreach through next summer. 

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