Community advocates are taking a stand against a proposed six-story expansion of the former Lyft headquarters in the Mission District that would bring close to 100,000 square feet of office space to the heavily gentrifying neighborhood.
Plans to add a mixed-use building with ground-floor retail and arts spaces, 27,017 square feet of additional office space and a total of 24 apartments to the existing three-story building at 2300 Harrison St. are expected to go before the Planning Commission Thursday for a vote.
The Planning Department is recommending approval, but a coalition of community groups is pressing the commission to hold off on making a decision on the project to allow for more time to negotiate benefits for the community, such as increased affordable housing on site.
The proposed addition would tower over the existing 68,538 square foot office building. The two buildings combined would create a complex with more than 95,000 square feet of office space in the heart of a neighborhood already undergoing gentrification and suffering from a lack of opportunities for working class residents, according to opponents of the projects.
They are calling for the developer to make more of the proposed housing units affordable to the local community and to revise the project to include more mixed-use, community serving spaces.
“With 95,000 square feet of office space connected in open floor layout, we can only expect this to be a home for a large tech company,” said Carlos Bocanegra, an advocate with United to Save the Mission.
Citing the national average for the amount of square footage allocated per worker, which at the end of 2017 was about 193 square feet, Bocanegra estimated that the planned building could attract upwards of 600 “high-income earners into the neighborhood.”
“This is only coming with an additional 20 units of housing to offer those workers that are there in that building?” said Bocanegra. “The amount of price pressure that will come from 600 people to this area, of them looking for housing — We expect this to impact the community.”
Original plans filed with the Planning Department in 2017 called for 14 townhomes across from the Southern Pacific Brewing Company on Mistral Street. The proposal has since been revised to include 14 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom units at the site.
The property is owned by the 526 Mission Street LLC, which is registered to Patricia Delgrande, Chief Operating Officer at DN&E Walter & Co. Planning documents indicate that the owners plan to utilize the state density bonus, a law that permits up to 35 percent greater density in exchange for designating 11 percent of the units as affordable to very-low-income households.
The state density bonus would yield three affordable apartments at 50 percent of the area median income, and the owners have agreed to contribute an additional unit to the inclusionary housing program as a result of community negotiations.
Luis Cuadra, of BergDavis, the public affairs firm representing the property owners, said in an email to the San Francisco Examiner that “there have been no discussions concerning a specific tenant.”
He added that negotiations with the community have resulted in design revisions on the proposed project’s ground floor storefronts, office levels, and residential levels and a commitment to “fund a muralist to develop a mural along two areas in the project’s Mistral Street facade.”
Cuadra said that the property owners have made a $20,000 donation to the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund “to be used to support a local affordable housing project or to retain a legacy business or storefront” and are in ongoing discussions with La Cocina, a Mission District nonprofit culinary incubator, on a lease for an approximately 2,440 square foot retail space in the new development.
“Approximately 1,158 square feet of ground floor, Mistral Street facing [is designated as] arts activity/retail space at a reduced rate for use by a community-based arts organization or artist-in-residence,” said Cuadra.
But Bocanegra said that the concessions are not likely to outweigh the impacts that the development will have on displacement and gentrification in the neighborhood.
“We want a higher amount of affordable housing. We want an actual plan for this office space to be mixed use, to contribute not only to high income earners but to the working class,” said Bocanegra. “The City is the biggest representative for its vulnerable communities. The City needs to take a hard look at this project…and assure that this building gets built in a way that will [guarantee] an equitable and a healthy outcome.”