Dozens give input on Balboa Park Upper Yard development

Mission Housing directors Marcía Contreras (3rd from right) and Martín Ugarte (2nd from right) lead a break-out group discussion at the March 25, 2017 community meeting about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site. Photo by Tony Bear!

First large public community meeting shares information, solicits opinions

Saturday, March 25, eighty people attended a three-hour community meeting at Balboa High School. The event, organized by Mission Housing Development Corporation staff, shared details about the affordable housing construction planned for the Balboa Park Upper Yard site, a vacant property at the corner of San Jose and Geneva Avenues in San Francisco. The 100-percent affordable rental housing planned for the site will be offered to low- and very low-income families, including some formerly homeless.

The goals of the meeting: to share basic information about the issues surrounding the mixed-use complex, and to get input from community stakeholders about ways the apartment building can best serve the Balboa Park neighborhood.

Mission Housing Executive Director Sam Moss opened the meeting. He acknowledged the years of community engagement that helped bring the project to fruition.

“Many organizations and individuals are responsible for getting us to here,” said Moss. A slide in the presentation thanked John Avalos, San Francisco District 11 Supervisor from 2009 – 2013.

“Supervisor Avalos and his staff put in years of tireless advocacy and community organizing that brought this project to light, from its first envisioning through convincing SFCity to buy the land and hold the Request For Qualification competition led to this day.”

Also recognized: A coalition of community stakeholders organized as Communities United for Health and Justice. CUHJ conducted dozens of community surveys, group meetings and face-to-face interviews with residents of District 11. The work helped define the community vision for the Balboa Park Upper Yard development.

Planning and zoning requirements, transit hub considerations

San Francisco’s Planning Department and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, also known as MOHCD, have specified various aspects of zoning and land use for the Balboa Park Upper Yard parcel. Much of the vision for the site was formulated in the Balboa Park Station Area Plan, developed in 2008 and 2009. The meeting began with a presentation detailing the city’s vision for the site.

The Transit-Oriented Development is being done in partnership with MOHCD, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The office of District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaí will help Mission Housing coordinate all parties and keep the hopes and concerns of the entire community at the forefront of every decision.

All the parties are collaborating to upgrade transit facilities, and improve pedestrian and bike rider safety, along with the construction of the housing and community-serving ground floor spaces.

Scott Falcone, a long-time neighborhood resident and an affordable housing development consultant to Mission Housing, outlined how the community planning process will progress, and discussed the development schedule. Then, Falcone and Moss clarified what goals the development will accomplish, beyond creating 80 to 120 units of affordable housing. “This is an opportunity to create a gateway into the neighborhood at this major transportation center,” said Falcone. “The development team is committed to working together with the community in a meaningful way, today and throughout the years to come.”

Anne Torney, AIA, partner at Mithun | Solomon, the architecture firm charged with designing the development, presented the opportunities and challenges the development faces. Some of the areas examined: SFMTA and BART considerations, street design, and neighborhood impacts. Developers hope to include community-serving ground floor spaces and public open space to for use by the apartment tenants as well as residents of the surrounding neighborhood. “Our goal is to balance the need for affordable units, and the desire for the building to fit-in with the neighborhood scale,” said Torney. “This is an opportunity to create a neighborhood-transforming asset.”

“We will be designing and building the Balboa Park Upper Yard development in a manner that produces a high-quality, enduring living environment.”

Four break-out groups allowed community members to drill down into particular topics about the development. The lively discussions included issues such as: the design of the building, housing affordability, circulation and transportation, and supportive services. The developers displayed enlarged visuals, and note takers recorded the feedback given. Community members offered opinions about important considerations, and gave optimistic solutions for the development team to consider. At the end of the meeting, all the participants heard highlights from the break-out group discussions.

Only the beginning

The March 25 meeting was the first in a series of large public community meetings this year, to ensure the community has considerable input. The development team already participated in meetings with District 11 community organizations and neighborhood resident associations in 2016, and earlier this year. These smaller meetings will continue.

May 13th, another large community meeting will be held at Balboa High School, where the development team will present a range of construction scenarios based upon the community input obtained.

Aditi Mahmud, Project Manager at Mission Housing, organized the March 25 event. She looks forward to engaging more community partners to host future events. “Every community meeting should be accessible to people all over the Outer Mission/Excelsior area, so we are looking at a variety of venues for future events,” said Mahmud. “Thanks to John Neponuceno, the assistant principal at Balboa High, and his staff. They helped make planning our event smooth and painless.”

This fall, the developers hope to submit a community-endorsed plan for the development to the Planning Department.

RELATED: View the presentation shown

RELATED: See this PDF for frequently mentioned comments from the March 25, 2017 community meeting, and other meetings from the last several months

READ ALSO: Mayor’s Office selects Mission Housing and Related California partnership to build affordable housing at Outer Mission/Excelsior site

Mission affordable housing builder undertakes retrofit

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, eliminating the existing commercial space. Photo by Tony Bear!

Mission Housing begins life and safety upgrades; Mayor’s office funding retrofit on various permanently affordable rental units

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for the City and County of San Francisco, also known as MOHCD, has awarded Mission Housing Development Corporation $4.5 million to perform wholesale structural improvements on several buildings in the Mission Housing portfolio.

In 2016, MOHCD issued a Notice of Funding Availability, or NOFA. The goal of the funding: To finance the acquisition and rehabilitation of numerous multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Small Sites Program. Small Sites are defined as five- to 25-unit buildings that house low-income tenants vulnerable to displacement. The program provides the money needed to help nonprofits buy and/or maintain these sites. The residences are protected from real estate speculation and rising rents, and San Francisco affordable housing stock is maintained.

The Mission Housing response to the NOFA detailed the extensive rehab work needed to stabilize six multi-family buildings and help preserve their affordability over the long-term.

“One reason Mission Housing exists, is to stabilize and preserve affordable housing stock in the Mission and throughout San Francisco,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “People have a right to live in safe, habitable places. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development we can make the investment needed to uphold the high quality of life all San Franciscans deserve, regardless of their income.”

Retrofits address multiple concerns while preserving housing stock, community-serving businesses

The six properties being retrofitted, originally built in the late 1890s and early 1920s, were acquired by Mission Housing in the 1980s and 1990s to preserve affordable housing stock.

The construction efforts are projected to begin in fourth quarter of 2017. Much of the work needed addresses seismic concerns, habitability, life/safety, and code compliance issues. While most of the building occupants should experience minimal disruption, a few residents may be temporarily relocated at some point in the construction phases.

The retrofit work will encompass a few commercial spaces. “Mission Housing is working with all the affected commercial tenants to ensure their businesses remain strong throughout construction,” said Moss.

Calle 24 Latino Cultural District could gain a community-serving space

The ground floor area at 3254 24th Street will undergo one of the more extensive rehab efforts, as part of essential life and safety upgrades needed to keep the upstairs residences viable. Because this renovation will substantially reduce the amount of commercial space, it could be converted to offices for the Mission Housing Resident Services team.

“We are looking into how the space could transition into a neighborhood-serving hub,” said Marcía Contreras, Director of Operations and Resident Services for Mission Housing. Contreras is a member of the Calle 24 Council. “Our teams could be in closer proximity to our 24th Street-area residents, and more non-residents could access our community services.”

“This change would make 3254 24th Street another asset to the Mission District,” said Contreras.

The commercial tenant being displaced by the retrofit work will receive assistance with relocating.

Mission Housing developing 344 new affordable units throughout SF

Aerial views of the dormant corners being developed into affordable housing by Mission Housing – 490 South Van Ness (left) and Balboa Park Upper Yard. Photos: Google.

Mission Housing awarded two new contracts in as many months, to develop new 100% affordable housing throughout San Francisco; three separate multi-family rental complexes set to break ground in 2017 and 2018

November 3rd, 2016, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, also known as MOHCD, selected the team of Mission Housing Development Corporation and BRIDGE Housing to be the developers of 100 percent affordable housing at the corner of 16th Street and South Van Ness Avenue.

The development, known as 490 South Van Ness, will deliver upwards of 89 units of new family housing on a Mission District site acquired by the city in 2015. The residents will be low and very low income families, and formerly homeless families. Thanks to recent San Francisco legislation, many of the units will be dedicated to housing District 9 residents, or people living within one mile of the site.

Mission Housing on a roll

Now, with the award of the 490 South Van Ness contract, Mission Housing has three apartment complexes in the planning stages. In October 2016, Mission Housing and Related California won the development rights to erect at least 90 units of housing at the Balboa Park Station Upper Yard, currently two adjacent parking lots owned by the city and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Public space improvements tied to the Upper Yard development are on an adjacent parcel owned by BART.

In 2015, Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing were given the nod to build 165 apartments at 1950 Mission.

The 344 apartments on the drawing board at Mission Housing will be the most affordable housing units built in the Mission District and its neighbor, the Excelsior District, since 2006. The construction will be financed with a combination of city dollars (i.e.: the housing bond) and federal low-income housing tax credits that are sold to investors.

Community impacts

All of the units in the Mission Housing pipeline will be built using union labor. Once completed, Mission Housing will take the lead in delivering comprehensive supportive services to the residents and the surrounding communities. A variety of partner community agencies will have facilities and/or operations located on site. The goal: To help stabilize vulnerable residents, and propel them toward self-sufficiency.

“We’ve been entrusted with a valuable asset — land,” said Sam Moss, Executive Director of Mission Housing. “We are proud to have been chosen as the builder to activate some long-dormant spaces in San Francisco, providing jobs, housing and services where they are most needed.”

READ MORE: 1950 Mission breaks ground in 2017

READ MORE: 490 South Van Ness: Transit-oriented design to activate dormant corner

READ MORE: Balboa Park Upper Yard: Site for Outer Mission/Excelsior housing

Grand re-opening celebrates Betel Apartments 40th anniversary

On September 15, 2016, Mission Housing invited the Mission community to celebrate the renovation of Betel Apartments, on its 40th anniversary. Photos by Tony Bear!

The Mission community celebrates Betel Apartments — renovated, modernized and preserved for another generation of affordable family housing

Betel Apartments is an award winning community revitalization effort built by Mission Housing Development Corporation in 1976, our first new construction ever. You can read more about Betel Apartments HERE.

Mission Housing Development Corporation | Betel Apartments 40th anniversary

Betel Apartments, completed in 1976, was one of the first two new construction buildings by Mission Housing.

On September 15, 2016, Mission Housing staff invited Betel residents, dignitaries and other members of the Mission community to celebrate the completion of a year-long a renovation of the property, just in time to observe Betel’s 40th anniversary.

The re-dedication of Betel Apartments included food, refreshments, and entertainment. Also on hand were some of the people who and companies that worked on the remodel. On the upper deck of the development, Mission Housing Executive Director Sam Moss, and Board Chairman Pete Gallegos made comments, then the attendees went downstairs for the cutting of a ribbon strung across the entrance of an empty apartment. Guests were allowed to tour the unit to observe the meticulous renovations

“The renovation could have allowed us to convert the development to market-rate units,” said Moss. “Instead, we’ve preserved the affordable housing at Betel for at least another 55 years.”

Over the last year, the residents were relocated long enough for their unit to be remodeled, as the construction proceeded building-by-building. The modernization was designed by Hamilton + Aitken Architects, with construction by Nibbi Brothers General Contractors. The celebration was planned and staffed by MB Wedding Design and Events.

On September 15, 2016, Mission Housing invited the Mission community to celebrate the renovation of Betel Apartments, on its 40th anniversary. Photos by Tony Bear!