Developers of a unique project to build supportive housing for formerly homeless people on the same site as market-rate housing are not fazed by a less-than-stellar preliminary review of the effort from city planners.
San Francisco-based Strada Investment Group has teamed up with Community Housing Partnership, a nonprofit that helps secure housing for homeless residents, to build a first-of-its-kind development in The City at the site of the decrepit and run-down Civic Center Hotel in the thriving mid-Market area.
But in the preliminary project assessment sent by the Planning Department to developers on Aug. 17, planners wrote that the proposed project is not consistent with certain policies related to housing and open space in the Market and Octavia Area Plan.
The 100,000-square-foot project site is located on a block bordered by Market, 12th, Brady and Otis streets. It includes plans to transform the site of the Civic Center Hotel into 477 market-rate rental units and 107 below market-rate supportive rental units that will be operated by the Community Housing Partnership.
There is also 9,275 square feet of ground-floor retail space; 27,296 square feet of space for the Local 38 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union that owns the hotel; open space; and some 200 parking spaces and 362 bike parking spaces planned as part of the development.
The main concern of the Planning Department appears to be designs for the open space.
Per the Market and Octavia Area Plan, the center of the “Brady Block” is prime for a signature public park. Developers have proposed that the park occupy existing BART property and extend out onto nearby private properties.
However, planners wrote that the reconfigured open space is “internalized and narrow,” and that buildings would shade the park throughout the day.
“We expect this to be an ongoing collaborative process with the Planning Department, and our interest, which is theirs, is to come up with the best open space configuration,” said Michael Cohen, co-founder and principal of Strada.
Cohen said his team will meet with planning staff and the architect this week to discuss concerns with the open space.
“Our intention is to comply with all the major elements of the [Market and Octavia Area Plan], but if there are pieces here and that make sense from a public policy perspective we’re going to advocate for those,” Cohen said.
The project also calls for the 107 supportive housing units to replace the 71 units at the Civic Center Hotel to provide homes for those residents, and add social and community services.