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SOMA housing project stalled by sidewalk issue

Assistant Editor

The 1500 block of Folsom Street, as seen from the parking lot of Action Rentals, left, to the Oasis nightclub. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The 1500 block of Folsom Street, as seen from the parking lot of Action Rentals, left, to the Oasis nightclub. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

A sidewalk issue has apparently stalled a housing project in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, but a tentative agreement with the developer has been reached, officials said.

San Francisco Public Works has reached a tentative agreement with the developer of a housing development adjacent to the LGBTQ bar and nightclub Oasis that will allow the project to move forward.

Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for the public works department, told the Bay Area Reporter that a sidewalk needs to be widened to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards for the project at 1560 Folsom Street to continue as scheduled.

In another issue, as the B.A.R. previously reported, the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District was working with the San Francisco-based real estate development company AGI Avant to mitigate potential noise issues. Noise emanating from the long-established LGBTQ bars and nightclubs into the early hours of the morning in SOMA, in particular, have been issues with some of their neighbors in the past.

The project had been scheduled to be heard at the planning commission, but has been "continued indefinitely," according to an announcement from the planning department.

Gina Simi, a spokeswoman for the planning department, told the B.A.R. last month, "The project sponsor requested to suspend the project. I'm afraid I can't speak for them, but recommend you reach out directly for more information."

AGI Avant did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The project consists of 232 mostly market-rate units.

Oasis' D'Arcy Drollinger told the B.A.R. that he does not know what happened, and that two people he spoke with who might have known also did not, but were "not surprised."

Robert Goldfarb, president of the board of the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District, told the B.A.R. that he heard it was due to a public works issue, and according to Gordon, the request to suspend the project did not mean that it was not going forward.

"Here's what's been happening: In order to proceed with the project as proposed, the developer would need to widen Burns Place sidewalk to comply with ADA accessibility standards and expand the width of the roadway to at least 18 feet to allow for two-way traffic," Gordon wrote in a November 2 email.

"The developer has proposed using Burns Place to access the planned garage for the 1560 Folsom project. Public Works will be alerting the planning department that we reached tentative agreement with the developer on those requirements. There is progress," Gordon added.

In July, the leather district began circulating a petition asking AGI Avant to help mitigate the effects of gentrification in the area.

"The 1560 Folsom Street location is an epicenter of our community, and we welcome development that will become a good neighbor, by supporting the cultural district, welcoming the Folsom Street Fair and other traditional and cultural events, and mitigating the effects of gentrification that the addition of this project's nearly 700 new residents, in 232 mostly market-rate units, will bring to the heart of the Cultural District," the petition stated.

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