Saturday: Community Meeting on Proposed “90+” Units of Senior Housing on Shotwell


There’s a community meeting scheduled for Saturday morning, Saturday, February 13, from 10 am to noon at St. Anthony’s Church (3215 Cesar Chavez) to discuss the 90+-unit senior citizen housing development proposed for 1296 Shotwell Street near Cesar Chavez.

As Bernalwood previously explained:

Right now, 1296 Shotwell is basically a shed that’s home to a few automotive repair shops. The history of this project is intimately tied to the Vida market-rate development at 2558 Mission Street that also created the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema inside the restored New Mission theater. Vida is a 114-unit, market-rate project in which the developer opted to meet their inclusionary housing requirements by purchasing 1296 Shotwell Street as a land dedication site for use by San Francisco to create affordable housing. This means the City basically received the land at 1296 Shotwell for free. And presumably, since 1296 Shotwell will be senior housing, each of the units in the new building will be relatively small, although the height of the building gives it significant density.

That’s the backstory. The new building will be co-developed by Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), and Karoleen Feng, MEDA Director of Community Real Estate, explains what Saturday’s meeting is all about:

We are planning to have a community meeting on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 10 a.m. To noon, to develop our vision that will help us to better design and program the building. The affordable housing will be for seniors and be 90+ apartments, as requested by the City. Before we solidify our proposal that was submitted to the City, we are hoping to get our community’s ideas for what could be developed, so that we can incorporate as much as possible ― within the parameters of the City’s requirements.

Bernalwood requested renderings of the proposed building, to see if there had been any updates since the previous proposal was unveiled. We also asked for confirmation that the site plan still calls for a nine-story tower. Christopher Gil, MEDA’s content marketing manager declined to confirm this, and told us no rendering is available, because:

The building design is not determined. That is why there are community meetings being held — to let the neighborhood have a say in making this the best senior affordable housing development possible.

Hmm. So we know that the original proposal for the building was for 96 units in a nine-story tower, and we know that the plan for the building still contains “90+ apartments.” But MEDA won’t confirm that the site plan still contains a nine-story tower, and the organization declined to provide any further detail about what the current plan looks like in advance of Saturday’s meeting.

“Community feedback is an integral part of MEDA’s brand of affordable housing,” says MEDA’s Christopher Gil.

Maybe so, but MEDA is also a slick political operator, and this building with 90+ units is also part of MEDA’s brand of affordable housing. So presumably the building is either going to remain at nine-stories, or it is going to have a whole lot of subterranean living spaces — and the latter scenario seems likely.

As I’ve said before, I have a personal stake in this building, because I live a block away, and it will be highly visible from my home. Indeed, it will likely obstruct part of my glamorous downtown skyline view, which I welcome, because we really need more housing of all types in this area, and more density, and this is a good place for it. I welcome more housing, and I don’t mind a tower, and personally, I don’t care if it obstructs my view. Yes in my front yard! But MEDA is not inspiring much confidence in their candor as a real estate developer or future neighbor.

Hopefully we’ll learn more on Saturday.

2004-01252016_CRE-1296 Shotwell Community Planning - Information Meeting Flier_v3

IMAGE: Top, a November 2015 rendering of the nine-story affordable housing project proposed for 1296 Shotwell

19 thoughts on “Saturday: Community Meeting on Proposed “90+” Units of Senior Housing on Shotwell

  1. Tall seems good for this location, and we need the housing. Hopefully no ugly Precita Eyes mural will be attached. Glad you are being a good sport about losing the view.

  2. Re density – we definitely need more housing, & we live in a city fercrissakes, and that means living with people. Density is better environmentally as well. HOWEVER, as an architect, I have to ask why the thing has to be so ugly, & guess what – I have an answer to my own question. Too many of us (artichokes) are driven by the desire for ego gratification, the need for recognition, to set ourselves apart from the herd, to be “stars”, and are thus too motivated to do something new New NEW!! even if it means creating an ugly unpleasant environment.

  3. People want affordable housing; they’re getting affordable housing. Meanwhile, I thought that in the Mission Chavez neighborhood, like many others, the height of a new building is limited by the height of buildings across the street and on the same block. Thus, the building where Good Frickin’ Chicken is located was built to be as high as the Graystone hotel across the street. But I don’t recall any 9-story buildings across or on the same block as the proposed apartments.

    • Nine stories is too high for the neighborhood! Also, how can we insure that local seniors get priority…meaning former Mission residents that were displaced. I am not in favor of Lee’s favored group of sanfranciscans take all of the spots.

  4. Build it! Build it! We need more housing now. Hopefully their design is a lot more developed than they are claiming. We need this thing in the ground tomorrow.

  5. Todd, why don’t you notice the meeting, attend it, then slam MEDA if it’s actually warranted? Public process shouldn’t mean that whoever sees the information online first decides the tone. You bring a sour taste to these opportunities, all while feigning to be a Yes In My Backyard consensus maker. It’s getting tired.

  6. If “MEDA is a slick political operator,” I cringe to think how we should describe a great number of large tech companies and real estate developers and all the speculators (and politicians!) who support them with virtually no reservation. The names would be–well, should be–far worse.

    I think the difference is that we do not demand transparency or, my lord, “candor” from such entities. If one wants “candor,” why would they expect to get it from a housing developer–in San Francisco and in 2016, of all places and times? How many housing developers will simply pass along major plans that are not finalized? Some perhaps would, but was the person asked under oath, or at risk of perjury?

    Was he being pressured to pinky swear? (That is key.)

    Why should MEDA know the exact number of floors in the building? Even if the number is known, why does someone have to divulge the information just because they were asked? Would it make a big difference had he said 8 instead of 9? Is simply a number being sought, or some clear facts?

    There is a meeting about it. Reserve judgment. Quit grinding an ax over an organization that helped buy the Precita Eyes building at market value, allowing a cultural neighborhood treasure to remain in a place that no longer values cultural neighborhood treasures.

    • The questions Todd asks here are essentially the same sort of issues that MEDA reps would be firing at anyone else developing any housing in the Mission (even housing of the BMR variety). Fair game, I say.

      MEDA’s efforts to build housing in the neighborhood are noble; their efforts to ensure that no one else will ever get to are obnoxious.

      • Of course the questions would be asked, but they often wouldn’t be answered by others involved with real estate development. There is an implication that MEDA knows the answer and is being purposely deceptive. Otherwise, “slick political operator” has no basis. The sound of ax grinding ax is deafening. To say that MEDA is trying to ensure that no one else can develop housing in SF is hyperbolic nonsense. You’ve been listening to your Donald Trump podcasts too much.

        I am not sure which Earth you are living on, but on this one, many involved in real estate are doing well in San Francisco. Are there many obstacles to building in San Francisco? Absolutely. But is that stopping real estate pros, speculators, and the wealthy becoming millionaires many times over, at the expense of those who simply have far fewer means, and who are being pushed out of SF in droves. No.


      • Otis, clearly you’ve never been to a Planning Commission meeting on a Mission housing project. MEDA is always there opposing it unless the site is used for 100% affordable units.

      • “To say that MEDA is trying to ensure that no one else can develop housing in SF is hyperbolic nonsense. ”

        MEDA representatives campaigned aggressively for Prop I, and are there to fight essentially every single housing project going up in the Mission. If their goal is not to block all other housing in the Mission, then how … _interesting_ that their public activities are absolutely 100% consistent with that goal, at all times.

  7. The way I read MEDA’s lack of responsiveness is that they sincerely want to include the community in the design of the building. But if they put up a rendering with specific floor and unit numbers, that will squelch the input — instead of folks focusing on what they want, they will focus on what they don’t like about the rendering. It appears that the initial rendering was for the purposes of the initial application only, and now it’s all fair game as long as they meet certain req’s from the city (90+ units, 100% affordable, etc). After the initial input phase is over (which this meeting looks to be part of), I agree that MEDA has an obligation to come up with firmer plans and then to engage the community again to hear concerns and thoughts about those plans.

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