The project proposed at 2588 Mission St., the site of a 108-year-old building destroyed by fire in 2015, will come before the Planning Commission by the end of the year as a 10-story market-rate project, according to Planning Department Chief of Staff Dan Sider.
“The short version is that the developer continues to push forward,” Sider wrote in an email to Mission Local.
That developer is the owner, Hawk Ling Lou. Because the scheduling for Planning Commission meetings can be “fickle,” Sider couldn’t comment on the exact timeline of the standard hearing yet, though according to an advanced calendar it’s tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16. But it’s no secret that hordes of outraged community members will probably attend and object to it, over Lou’s past negligence.
The 2015 fire killed 38-year-old resident Mauricio Orellano, and displaced dozens of residential and commercial tenants, including Mission Local.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin later charged contractor Tommy Jue with fraud and grand theft for installing a faulty fire-alarm system 2588 22nd St. that Lou, in the midst of lawsuits, claimed contributed to the conflagration. Lou had hired Jue to install the system.
Lou did not immediately return requests for comment.
Since 2015, Lou has refused to sell the property to affordable-housing developers, and pushed ahead with plans to build market-rate housing, despite community pleas to build a fully affordable project on the site.
Over the years, Lou has envisioned increasingly taller buildings. The most recent iteration asks to use a state density bonus law to build a 10-story project, rivaling the tallest building in the neighborhood, the U.S. Bank building kitty-corner from the site, on the northwest corner of 22nd and Mission streets. That law gives Lou a 50 percent increase in density if 15 percent of the total project is affordable to those earning 50 percent of the area median income, or $50,450 for one person.
Lou’s proposed project would include 152 market-rate units and 30 affordable units. The ground floor would be a nearly 4,000-square-foot retail space. While the original 2015 tenants who were displaced could possibly have the Right to Return — it depends on whether officials deem the building New Construction — most have moved on in the eight years since the fire.
Nevertheless, major community groups, like the Mission Economic Development Agency, continue to urge Lou to sell the property over to someone who will develop it as 100-percent affordable housing, and to emphasize the right to return for former tenants. In 2021, a pre-application meeting for an earlier proposal from Lou was met with a community petition and public criticism.
While a Planning Commission hearing is planned, it is unclear what, if anything, would curb Lou and his current aspirations. As California grapples with a housing crisis and state officials crack down, locals have less power to stop a project. Other projects, like 469 Stevenson St., which the Board of Supervisors controversially rejected after local appeals, invited swift scolding and threats from the state.
But Lou’s project is a separate case. “The project isn’t ministerial,” Sider said, indicating the project could not be automatically approved, “so the hearing will be meaningful.”