City set to end wrangling over Trinity Plaza with OK on deal

Years of conflict about plans to build 1,900 apartments on Market and Eighth streets may end peacefully today if city planners give their final sign-off to the Trinity Plaza development.

In 2003, owner Angelo Sangiacamo proposed tearing down the seven-story building containing 377 apartments — 360 of which are rent-controlled — to make way for the residential towers. The plan spurred protests, candlelight vigils, arguments between members of the Board of Supervisors and a ballot initiative, which never went before the voters.

Supervisor Chris Daly helped broker a deal struck with Sangiacamo last summer, allowing 360 of the new apartments to comply with The City’s rent-control regulations.

“It’s been a very long struggle,” Daly said. “It’s a win-win to build new development including rent control and affordable units.”

The three towers, ranging in height from 18 to 26 stories, will include 60,000 square feet of retail space, nearly 92,000 square feet of open space plus a pedestrian mall between Market and Mission streets complete with restaurants and cafés. The $300 million project is expected to break ground in 2007.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on a 15-year development agreement between The City and Sangiacamo. If approved today, the Board of Supervisors would next consider the agreement, the last step needed before demolition could begin.

“There’s no one I know who doesn’t want to see this happen,” said Michael Li, a city planner who has worked on the project since the beginning. Residents, including Angela Villa Flores, will pay the same monthly rent they have been paying when they move into their new units. The rents will increase only slightly after that, in accordance with rent control rules. “This is all we can afford,” Flores said. “We are thankful … the rent will stay low.”

The plan will help remove blight from the mid-Market area, said Jim Chappell, president of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

The apartment building has contributed to blight since it was built in the 1950s, and the new studio and one-bedroom units are exactly what the city needs, Chappell said.

“Imagine 2,000 middle-class people walking to work,” Chappell said. “This brings prosperity to a piece” of Market Street that’s been reluctant to change.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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