Kaiser expansion benefits area

Western Addition will get low-income housing so hospital can build annex

The demolition of a Western Addition building is scheduled to pave the way for Kaiser Permanente’s $40 million-plus expansion and provide the neighborhood with 21 new low-income apartments — for just $100.

In order for the health care giant to build its new 69,000-square-foot medical office building near the Geary Avenue hospital, Kaiser must first tear down the building on the 1400 block of Divisadero Street. The so-called Pink Building contains 21 vacant low-income apartments.

Kaiser intends to construct a five-story office building that includes doctors’ offices, outpatient facilities and several clinics likely to break ground in 2008 on land now occupied by the Pink Building, said Meg Walker, a spokeswoman for the Oakland-based health care firm.

State law requires that an equal number of low-income units be constructed to compensate for the loss of affordable apartments.

In their stead, 21 affordable units are scheduled for construction on the 2100 block of O’Farrell Street in a four-story, 27,132-square-foot building. Plans call for housing on the top three floors, roughly 6,000 square feet of open space and 21 parking spaces on the first floor. Blueprints show 11 one-bedroom units, three two-bedroom apartments and seven studios. The new apartments are planned for completion in the summer of 2008.

Members of the public and the Redevelopment Agency on Tuesday applauded Kaiser’s plan to sell the new property — valued at more than $6 million — for $100. The buyer will be a Western Addition nonprofit composed of five churches.

“This kind of deal is the kind of thing that should be done in the Western Addition,” said Arnold Townsend, a member of the Western Addition Citizens Advisory Committee. “A deal like this ought to get notoriety.”

Once the new apartments at 2139 O’Farrell St. are built and the leases signed, the nonprofit Tabernacle Community Development Corporation plans to buy the building.

Rev. Edgar Boyd of the Bethel A.M.E. Church said the plan shows excellent community stewardship.

“Kaiser is a good corporate citizen,” Boyd said.

New residents must meet certain criteria, including incomes less than $54,700 a year for a family of four.

“As a native Western Addition resident, I’m excited,” Redevelopment Agency member London Breed said. “This is really outstanding.”

mcarroll@examiner.com

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