Developer on Major SoMa Project Agrees to Increase Affordable Units to 40 Percent

The developer of a major new housing development in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood that is set to come before the Board of Supervisors next week has agreed to make 40 percent of the units in the project affordable, city officials said today.

The 5M project, which won unanimous approval from the Board of Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee today, had previously included 33 percent affordable housing units. Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the South of Market area, negotiated the new, higher levels with developer Forest City this weekend with the support of Mayor Ed Lee, officials said.

The 1.6 million square foot mixed-use project is located on a 4-acre site at Fifth and Mission streets. Plans call for three buildings, one office and two residential, and around 50,000 square feet of public open space, according to Forest City.

The revised proposal includes a total of 601 market-rate units and 241 affordable units, including 87 rental units in one residential building targeting households with incomes ranging from 100 percent of the area median income to 150 percent.

In addition, the developer will pay for 71 units at a 113-unit affordable housing project at 168 Eddy St. that includes 30 units set aside for formerly homeless families and others set aside for those making less than 50 percent of the area median income.

Forest City will also pay the land dedication and gap financing on an 83-unit senior housing project at 967 Mission St. designated for those making no more than 50 percent of the area median income.

Kim, who also negotiated 40 percent affordability on the San Francisco Giants’ Mission Rock project, which won approval from voters last month, today said that “40 is the new 30 when it comes to affordable housing.”

“I support development in San Francisco but we have to build for San Franciscans,” Kim said in a statement. “When the majority of San Franciscans qualify for affordable housing, that is who we should be building for and not just market rate luxury housing.”

Lee said the project was an opportunity to work toward the city’s goal of building and rehabilitating 30,000 new homes by 2020, half of them affordable to low and middle-income families. He credited Kim for pushing to increase affordability and noted that Supervisor Scott Weiner had worked to make 5M the first project to pay transit impact fees on residential units.

“This 5M project provides an unusual downtown opportunity that will transform four acres of underutilized land to create affordable housing, jobs, parks and other community benefits,” Lee said in a statement.

The 5M project has drawn opposition in the neighborhood from groups including the South of Market Community Action Network. The group has said the project will contribute to the displacement of residents in nearby single-room occupancy hotels and among the area’s Filipino community, members of which have been working with Kim to create a Filipino heritage district in SoMa.

A call to the South of Market Community Action Network for comment this afternoon was not immediately returned.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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