The proposed project at 2976 Mission St. will bring eight new units and a ground floor space if approved. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken July 26, 2022.

A lot of change is coming to the blocks near Mission and 26th streets.

The city will decide Thursday at the Planning Commission whether to knock down a bubblegum-pink Victorian and replace it with a six-story, eight-unit building. 

If approved, it will join a string of market-rate developments slated for that block that could potentially add as many as 91 new market-rate units, and 10 affordable units. Some might remember one of the other upcoming projects for its controversial history over whether or not the site, a former laundromat and Mission organization meeting place, earned historic designation. 

The two-story pink Victorian at 2976 Mission St. contains one residential unit on the second floor, a vacant commercial space and the Honduran restaurant Nani’s on the ground floor. On Thursday, architect Jonathan Pearlman of Elevation Architects will ask the Planning Commission to approve a demolition and new construction plans on behalf of the property owner, Jeff Fu. Fu and his business partners envision a six-story building with one commercial space and eight market-rate homes. 

The project will bring much-needed housing stock to the city, Pearlman said. Though the building did not receive a historic designation, the architect plans to keep the Victorian facade and add cornices and trim to “retain the cultural feel of the place.” 

Using the same reasoning, Pearlman decided to set back the building’s third through sixth stories six feet away from Mission Street. The workaround allows the building to match Mission Street’s aesthetic of lower buildings, while still making room for the units in the back.  

“If you tear down everything and make it modern, then you lose the feeling and the spirit,” of the neighborhood, Pearlman said. 

The project gained initial support from the influential neighborhood organization Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, Pearlman said. At the organization’s request, the project developer whittled the plan down from nine units to eight, he added. 

But the project hasn’t gone over as well with other activist organizations. The ANSWER Coalition and Party for Socialism and Liberation want the Planning Commission to reject the project for its lack of affordable housing units — or at least revise it to add a few more.

The city’s affordable housing law requires projects that have 10 or more units to include affordable units or pay an affordable housing fee. The 2976 Mission St. project, with eight units, does not legally qualify.

other developments:

‘Historic laundromat’: New owners want to be ‘good neighbors’ — but polarizing plans for site remain in place

The strange and terrible saga of the city’s “historic laundromat” at 2918 Mission St. came to an ostensible conclusion in April. That’s when, for $13.5 million, the property passed out of the hands of Robert Tillman — a man described by put-upon city officials as “not a developer” but “an ideologue doing a development” —…

It is unlikely the developer will add more. Even a few units would make the project financially infeasible, Pearlman said. (Indeed, financial feasibility was the political reasoning behind why the affordable housing requirement applies only to 10-unit plus buildings.)

Still, Keith Pavlik, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said he would push for the changes. However, it was unclear how many people from the neighborhood he would be able to get out.  

Other changes are also coming to Mission Street near 25th and 26th Streets. On June 9, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan to demolish a two-story building at 2955 Mission St. and erect a five-story, 18-unit mixed-use building with a ground floor commercial space and a basement. Two of those 18 units will be affordable. 

And just a block from these projects one can see the ruins of the former laundromat that Robert Tillman had once controversially hoped to develop. In 2018, community residents and Supervisor Hillary Ronen balked at Tillman’s refusal to compromise over the amount of affordable units in his proposed eight-story, 75-unit mixed use building. State law required eight affordable units, but advocates were pressing for more. Tillman washed his hands of the deal in 2019 when he sold it to Lawrence Lui. The businessman’s company owns multiple hotels and another development group that has completed other San Francisco projects on Harrison Street downtown

The laundromat was demolished in April and the eight-story construction permit is fair game, though it’s unclear if Lui will build Tillman’s eight-story vision or propose another plan. 

The former site of the controversial laundromat owned by Robert Tillman at 2918 Mission St. Photo by Annika Hom. Taken July 26, 2022.

Regardless, it is sure to get pushback from Richard Becker of the ANSWER Coalition. Becker already protested against 2955 Mission St., saying that the project would not “house those who need housing.” 

Becker and Pavlik plan on speaking out on Thursday.

But in reality, state expectations and laws to increase housing loom behind the Planning Commission and San Francisco’s Planning Department. Given the severe housing shortage, city officials can face penalties for deterring housing production. With 2976 Mission St. being too small to fit the affordable housing law, it is unlikely commissioners will vote against it for that reason, too.  

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REPORTER. Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused on local news and immigration. She is a proud Chinese and Filipina American. She has a twin brother that (contrary to soap opera tropes) is not evil.

Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.

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  1. Great to see the sectarian leftists making themselves useful for a change and highlighting in stark relief that the city funded poverty and ethnicity nonprofits might talk a big game but are all for show, whittling a one unit difference and calling it a day.

    Tribune of the Proletariat, Gloria La Riva, will usher the vanguard into the Mission. Finally. The presence of the PSL and their annoying trebly PA system at Occupy San Francisco, in concert with the nonprofits “Action Council” completed the alienation of normal people from OSF.

  2. ‘This empty lot once meant for housing brought to you by Supervisor Ronen and her confederacy of fringe groups’ … edits welcome to proposed plaques / signs to be erected at sites like 2918 Mission, 26th & South Van Ness, and so on.

  3. It’s a bit depressing (and disingenuous) that a city as old, dense and bustling as San Francisco imagines that three new projects along a busy corridor in a less than fully-realized stretch equates to “A lot of change is coming to the blocks near Mission and 26th streets”.

    In all honesty, these projects have been at odds with a couple of outspoken groups for years now, slowing their progress to almost none. If they get built at all, it’ll still take years for people to get keys; no thanks to persuasive gossip and impassible “demands” from a small portion of the community.

    I dream of projects that add housing to deteriorated and quiet stretches getting built. Looking forward to keeping an eye on their progress.

  4. Since this is right by a major multi-storied hospital and corridor (Cesar Chavez Street) and they are keeping the facade this could be a good thing that fits into the over-all area, for once. And that former laundry space is an eyesore

  5. People like Becker and Pavlik frustrate me to no end. Perfect is the enemy of good and we can thank their lot for parcels staying empty for years before anything productive is done. There’s so many boarded up buildings on Mission that could house folks and the BoS and activist groups act like we have the luxury of time. The city’s continued fortune isn’t guaranteed and rests upon solving this problem. If you care about this issue, the Housing Action Coalition has an email list that sends reminders about community meetings where you can voice your support for new housing.

  6. Per their website, it looks like the Party for Socialism and Liberation is a traditional Marxist organization that wants to outlaw private enterprise of all kinds. Their Twitter account is also very positive on the Cuban government.

    1. Yes, particularly this part:

      “Becker already protested against 2955 Mission St., saying that the project would not “house those who need housing.”

      Evidently Becker wants to control who lives where, in the grand Soviet style. Becker makes Preston look sane.

  7. Anyone who like me is wondering who or what the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is might care to read its entry on Wikipedia, which includes this priceless line:

    “The PSL describes its primary goal as the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the institution of socialism . . ”

    But while they are waiting for the great revolution they are evidently opining on small development projects 🙂