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.
Developments in Development: A six-story group housing building on 18th, updates on Shotwell and Shared Spaces
If you’re dialing into a San Francisco planning commission meeting from sunny, gorgeous Greece — well past 11 p.m. island time, by the way — it’s fair to say you care a lot about what’s on the docket.
If all goes to plan, future residents of 1354-56 York St. will join an historic part of the Mission District.
‘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.
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.