Corridor ready to sprout

Nearly 100 seniors, many struggling with debilitating ailments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, will be likely trailblazers among the thousands of people expected to move into new, taller buildings allowed around Market Street under pending zoning rules.

New rules in the Market and Octavia Neighborhood Plan, which would allow higher-density and taller buildings on the 89 blocks southwest of City Hall around the former path of the demolished Central Freeway, were recently agreed upon by the Board of Supervisors.

The plan is still waiting for a final vote by the board, which is scheduled for Tuesday, and Mayor Gavin Newsom’s signature.

However, a nonprofit group received tentative approval Thursday from planning commissioners to build a five-story assisted-living facility at the corner of Hayes and Laguna streets once the area’s height restrictions are lifted.

City officials expect a conga-line of developers to pitch plans for proposed projects as soon as the new rules are signed into law.

City planner Kearstin Dischinger said a building boom could begin in the area within a year of the zoning changes taking effect.

Projects allowed by the new rules are expected to create housing for more than 7,000 people by 2025, lifting the 376-acre area’s population by more than a quarter.

The City has plans for new market-rate residential buildings on 11 lots of land in the area that were among the 22 lots given to The City by the state after the Central Freeway was torn down, according to Rich Hillis, a deputy director in the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Another seven lots in the area were sold by The City to the San Francisco Redevelopment Commission to be used for below-market-rate housing projects, according to Hillis.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said there’s a “long line” of developers waiting for permission to start building. “The future of the area is going to radically change,” he said.

Many of the new buildings will be required under the new rules to include ground-floor businesses, shops and restaurants.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission also approved legislation drafted by Mirkarimi which, if passed by the full board, would require many of those businesses to follow similar local-hiring rules that are already imposed on bigger businesses and the construction industry. The employers would be required to hire some of their workers through The City’s First Source employment program.

jupton@examiner.com

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