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In addition to more than 300 housing units, 1979 Mission will include approximately 32,000 square feet of retail.. - Image Courtesy Maximus Real Estate Partners

  • Developer Working With School, Community on Project

San Francisco-based developer Maximus Real Estate Partners is moving forward with plans for a housing complex at 1979 Mission Street. Slated for the corner of Mission and 16th streets, the 1979 Mission Street project proposes 303 apartments and 42 affordable units for sale, ranging from studios to four bedrooms. The project will be adjacent to Marshall Elementary School.

On September 22, Maximus and its architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill presented the latest design for the project to the Building Grounds and Services Committee of the San Francisco Unified School District Board.

“The updated design incorporates changes in response to community concerns,” Maximus spokesman Joe Arellano said.

Since late summer 2013, the developer has met on multiple occasions with Marshall Elementary staff, parents and neighbors – as well as retail tenants and other stakeholders in the Mission neighborhood – to seek input and design a project that will benefit the community. Arellano said in response to concerns from the community, the heights of the building closest to the school will be reduced to 55 feet so there won’t be any additional shadows cast on the school’s playground. Arellano said Maximus will also fully fund some school improvements, including raising the playground by 15 feet to address shadows.

The School Board indicated that it would study the changes offered by Maximus and seek more feedback from the school’s parents, staff and the community at large. Arellano said the board members are interested in the community benefits and want to hear more from parents. About 70 people who support the project attended the school board meeting, including parents, housing activists and residents interested in workforce housing. A handful of opponents spoke against the project.

“We had major support at the meeting,” Arellano said.

The project is not without controversy, as some Mission residents have protested the plan and cited it as an example of gentrification and potential displacement of working class families.

The heights of the building closest to the school will be reduced to 55 feet so there won’t be any additional shadows cast on the school’s playground.

“We are putting forth an innovative project and making our case to the Mission community and the school district that it will provide community benefits, with a new plaza, affordable housing and improvements to the neighborhood and the school,” Arellano said. He pointed out that Marshall Elementary is one of the smallest schools in the city, and would have its playground space doubled. “The project provides significant value for school enhancements, new housing, and public safety.”

Maximus is in discussions with the Planning Department and mayor’s office about the developer re-investing proceeds from the sale of 42 affordable units onsite into the city fund for more affordable housing. The city currently requires 12 percent of the units to be affordable or for a developer to pay into a city fund. Maximus proposes to do both. The project would contain a mix of rentals with condos set aside as below market rate. Arellano said some of the below market rate or affordable units could be fully funded by the developer as workforce housing. A percentage of the units would then be affordable to teachers, public safety workers and construction workers – middle class wage earners who don’t qualify for the below market rate or affordable units but can’t afford to buy market rate priced condos.

“We are working on the mechanics of how to make it work,” Arellano said. “Because the project is adjacent to a school, it is important that it fit the needs of the community,” which wants and needs housing affordable to teachers.

The project will provide other community benefits by widening the sidewalks along Capp Street so Marshall Elementary parents and children have a safer space walking to school, and traffic will be slowed by having a narrower street.

The project will also include approximately 32,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor with storefronts on Mission and 16th streets and at the 16th Street Mission BART plaza, with a mix of local businesses including a pharmacy, small grocery store or market hall, cafes and restaurants. 1979 Mission is within the Mission Eastern Neighborhood Plan, which calls for providing housing along transit rich corridors. The environmental review process for the project is moving forward – in February 2014 Maximus submitted an Environmental Evaluation Application, and in March 2014 submitted a Conditional Use Authorization application.

More community meetings are planned, as discussions with the school district, planning department, and the Mayor’s office continue. Once the project goes through the approval process, construction could start in early 2015, and be completed by the fall of 2016.

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