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Rare Outer Sunset housing development may use new local density bonus

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A 76 gas station sits on the sight of a future high-rise condominium building on the corner of 42nd and Lawton streets in San Francisco’s Sunset District Friday, July 14, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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The architect behind a rare four-story housing development in the Outer Sunset said he is considering using the new density bonus program in San Francisco to build more units and a taller structure than currently planned.

Architect Kodor Baalbaki designed the plans for a mixed-use building with 18 residential units at Lawton Street and 42nd Avenue, the current site of a 76 gas station. Proposed in June, the plans include two below-market-rate units under Proposition C’s inclusionary housing requirements.

The project is likely raising eyebrows in the Sunset for proposing a building taller than the two-story houses that fill the neighborhood. The Outer Sunset has one of the highest numbers of single-family homes in San Francisco and has largely been untouched by new development as cranes tower elsewhere.

The project would be one of the first known developments to add more units and height through the new Home-SF density bonus program from Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the Sunset District.

Home-SF, which went into effect last Thursday, allows certain developers to build two stories above height-limits and add more density in exchange for 30 percent on-site affordable housing.

While Baalbaki said using the density bonus is under consideration, there are still issues that need to be pencilled out, such as pricing, height and the number of affordable units on-site.

“I actually had a phone call from the office of Supervisor Katy Tang and we talked about it and I asked them for more information,” Baalbaki said. “I believe more information could clarify this issue and we are willing to technically find out if there is a way of making this happen.”

Under the plans submitted last month, the building would rise to the four-story height limit for the site with 14 three-bedroom units, three one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom.

“We do not think that any price of a unit above $900,000 could be sold in the Sunset area,” Baalbaki later said in an email. “Our objective is to bring these units to a rate that would be less than cost of any existing house in the neighborhood.”

Baalbaki said using the density bonus would likely make the market-rate units more expensive.

“We need to fully understand the situation and need also to have the support of the community and The City for the new height because we are now at the limit of height,” Baalbaki said. “If we add more floors, that will actually trigger expensive units right away and that’s something we don’t want to do.”

Tang declined to comment on the project in particular in case it is appealed to the Board of Supervisors, but said she supports taller buildings along transit and commercial corridors in the Sunset that “maximize for what the zoning allows.”

“I support providing more housing opportunities for people of all different income levels,” Tang said. “I’m trying to solve for middle, moderate-income households in neighborhoods that haven’t seen development like the Sunset.”

Tang said she did not ask Baalbaki to use Home-SF.

In August 2014, Tang’s Sunset District Blueprint identified the 76 gas station as an underdeveloped site. According to the plan, the Sunset could add 1,300 units of housing if developers maximized zoning.

Still, the development at the 76 gas station appears to be one of a few in the Sunset.

The largest is the construction of a five-story building with 56 condos and retail on a block of Sloat Boulevard at 47th Avenue near Ocean Beach. Last Friday, the San Francisco Business Times reported that a 460-unit development near UC San Francisco’s Parnassus campus in the Inner Sunset fell through.

Wisfe Aish, the CEO of a fuel distribution company called Double AA Corp. based in South San Francisco, is the owner of the 76 gas station.

Aish has also filed plans to turn two other 76 gas stations in San Francisco into residential housing, according to a review of city and state records. The others are at 301 25th Ave. in the Richmond and 1298 Valencia St. in the Mission.

Aish referred the San Francisco Examiner to Baalbaki for comment.

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