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San Francisco Formally Acquires Actual Property to Make ‘Monster Within the Mission’ Mission 100% Inexpensive

Mayor London Breed’s office and the SF Board of Supervisors recently announced the completion of a deal between housing developer Crescent Heights and Maximus Real Estate Partners that will lead to an affordable housing project of 330 low-income units at 1979 Mission Street.

The $42 million land sale to Crescent Heights comes with the caveat that the developer hands the land over to the city, fulfilling its affordable housing requirement for a different project — a 55-story residential tower at 10 South Van Ness Avenue.

This sizable project is considered by many to be a win for housing advocates, SF realtors and developers, and San Francisco, as a whole.

The planned project at 1979 Mission was notably nicknamed the “Monster in the Mission” when it was first proposed in 2013, due to neighborhood objects both to its scale and its lack of affordability. Maximus Real Estate’s plans to turn the current property — the site of a BART station entrance, a former Walgreens, and a Burger King that closed in 2018 — into 331 mostly market-rate homes faced significant backlash from Mission residents, and locals feared that it would just be another force driving the working class, largely Latino population out of the neighborhood. The Plaza 16 Coalition, an activist group made of nearly 100 local groups, spent years pushing Maximus to sell the property.

In 2020, Maximus listed the property for sale and then made a deal with the city last November to sell it to Crescent Heights, on the condition that Crescent Heights would deed it to the city for affordable housing. The deal satisfies Crescent Heights’ affordable housing requirement for its approved 966-unit tower at 10 South Van Ness Avenue — the former Honda Dealership that has lately been an event venue.

The Chronicle reports that the Office of Housing and Community Development is now seeking a nonprofit to build the affordable housing units.

“It’s not only a material victory but a symbolic one as well,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who helped negotiate the deal, in a statement to the Chronicle. “For better or worse, that property became the symbol of the fight against gentrification in the Mission.”

When this deal was signed off on by the Board of Supervisors in December, The Real Deal noted that the “approval marks a major victory for housing advocates in the city.”

The transaction finally closed on Friday, February 11, and now the Board will set about selecting a non-profit developer for the affordable project. The original “Monster” plan called for three separate building wrapping around the corner, with buildings facing both 16th Street and Mission Street, but Ronen is now talking about the new project going up “on top of” the BART station entrance. No designs have yet been created.

Before development starts, Ronen says she is working on temporary uses for the BART plaza site that’s become a hot spot for drug dealing, with the goal “to enliven it and make it safer.”

The mayor’s office touts that “Since 2018, six new affordable housing developments have opened in the Mission, including 509 homes for families and 140 homes for seniors, with another [130-unit] housing development currently under construction.”

And while the city gets to build 330 new units of low-income housing here, mitigating some of the gentrification in the Mission District, Crescent Height’s luxury residential tower — with three times as many units — will be going up about five blocks away with no affordable units at all.

Related: Much-Maligned ‘Monster In the Mission’ Could Be Reanimated as 100% Affordable Housing

Top Image: A rendering of the BART plaza with the originally proposed ‘Monster’ project.

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