Nearly 1700 Affordable Housing Units Promised In New Visitacion Valley Development

A preliminary agreement announced today will likely pave the way for the construction of nearly 1,700 new affordable housing units in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley to start next year.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Malia Cohen plan to introduce to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday an agreement with Universal Paragon Corporation to develop the 20-acre former Schlage Lock factory site.

The plan promises to transform the site, which has been vacant for the last 15 years, into a mixed-use community with housing, parks and a grocery store.

“At long last, the 20-acre Schlage Lock site will be reborn and transformed, from a blighted former manufacturing factory and railyard into a thriving, transit-oriented community with nearly 1,700 new homes that will enrich the unique and diverse Visitacion Valley neighborhood,” Lee said in a statement.

The development agreement provides for the creation of retail stores, a grocery story, nearly 1,700 housing units, and more than 2 acres of open space and parks, according to Francis Tsang, spokesman for Lee.

Fifteen percent of the housing units will be set aside for below-market rate housing, and the rest of the units are intended to be accessible to low and middle-income households, according to Tsang.

“This is a monumental milestone not only for the Visitacion Valley community but the entire city of San Francisco,” Cohen said in a statement. “We need to continue fighting to keep San Francisco affordable for everyone.”

The city designed the Schlage Lock site as a redevelopment area in 2005, six years after the factory, which had been in operation since 1926, shut its doors, Tsang said.

Redevelopment funding would have provided approximately $50 million for the new project. But the development project nearly came to a screeching halt in 2012 when Gov. Jerry Brown dissolved the state’s redevelopment agencies – and the money that went with them.

Over the last two years, Lee and Cohen have worked with city agencies, the Visitacion Valley/Schlage Lock Advisory Body, the Universal Paragon Corporation and the community to find a funding solution for the development.

The current agreement includes an increased number of housing units and taps into other sources of public funding, including Proposition K transportation funds.

The agreement is expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission and other agencies by July, according to Yoyo Chan, an aide in Cohen’s office.

“We’re not seeing any opposition,” Chan said. “That’s a testament to how involved this community has been over the past 15 years.”

Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News

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