SF LGBTQ senior housing project plans 185 units

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday September 22, 2022
Share this Post:
An artist rendering depicts the proposed development aimed at LGBTQ seniors located at 1939 Market Street. Illustration: Courtesy SF Planning<br>
An artist rendering depicts the proposed development aimed at LGBTQ seniors located at 1939 Market Street. Illustration: Courtesy SF Planning

A new affordable housing project in San Francisco aimed at LGBTQ seniors will have 185 units in a 15-story building, according to plans submitted to the city this week. It will be the third such development specifically geared for LGBTQ seniors in the city.

The project is to be built at 1939 Market Street and estimated to cost $106,117,600. The city acquired the triangular 7,840 square foot lot at Market and Duboce Avenue in 2020 for $12 million from the Sheet Metal Workers Local 104. The union plans to vacate the property nearer to when construction of the new building will begin.

It still needs to be vetted by the city's planning commission and other departments before ground can be broken at the site. As it is a completely 100% affordable project for low and very-low income seniors, the city has granted it priority status and has deferred its fees it would normally charge.

Last year, the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development chose affordable housing developer Mercy Housing and Openhouse, a nonprofit provider of LGBTQ senior services in San Francisco, for the project. The agencies partnered on the 119-units of LGBTQ-welcoming affordable senior housing split between the buildings at 55 and 95 Laguna Street.

The campus also includes Openhouse's offices at 65 Laguna and a new community center it built out at 75 Laguna. It is a short walk from the upper Market Street location of the new residential building that will include a ground floor commercial space.

According to the plans submitted by Mercy Housing to city planners September 20, the triangularly shaped building will use the state density bonus program in order to provide a mix of 106 studios, 80 one-bedrooms and one two-bedroom unit. A portion of the units will be reserved for seniors that have experienced homelessness.

As with the previous two buildings overseen by Mercy and Openhouse, a lottery will be held for the rest of the units at 1939 Market Street. Both straight and LGBTQ seniors will be able to enter it as long as they meet the income restrictions, expected to range from 15% to 60% of the area median income.

The building will have residential interior amenity spaces and a terrace on the second floor. A nearly 1,900 square foot outdoor space would front Duboce Avenue, while the main lobby would be accessed from Market Street.

Mercy will oversee construction of the housing units and provide property management for the building. Openhouse will provide services and programming to the tenants. Representatives for either agency did not immediately respond to the B.A.R.'s request for comment Thursday.

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents the upper Market Street area, worked with Mayor London Breed's administration on acquiring the parcel from the union. He told the B.A.R. that the proposed building "is exciting" and its massing and height "appropriate" for the location.

"I think there is a huge need for this kind of housing, as we have seen both of the two prior Openhouse buildings have had thousands of applicants for the spots that have opened up there. So I think we need this building and we need 10 more," he said.

While the public benefits of the proposed building and its units "is clear," said Mandelman, he acknowledged its size is likely to draw some opposition.

"I think this is a site that can handle some height and can handle density. I think it is appropriate," said Mandelman. "Maybe there will be some questions about the design, which is fine. In terms of the overall size and number of units, I think what the mayor's office is aiming for here is good, and I have been supportive of it."

Paulett Taggart Architects is the lead architect for the project and has engaged Y.A. Studio to assist with the designs. The building is slated to be 159-feet tall and have 141,630 total square feet with no parking for cars but space set aside for 23 bicycles.

Writing about the plans for the SF YIMBY website, Andrew Nelson noted that the proposed building "would stand out in the neighborhood, standing six floors higher than the adjacent 1998 Market Street, built between 2012-2014 with design by Arquitectonica. The proposal is not shy about its height, with a grid pattern emphasizing its verticality, culminating with a dramatic flatiron edge."

Eric D. Shaw, a gay man who is director of the mayoral housing office, had told the B.A.R. last year that the city would cover the cost for designing the building and engaging with the community on the architectural plans, in addition to providing a development loan between $10 and $30 million. A third of the financing would come from investors, said Shaw, while another third would come from the state.

Mandelman told the B.A.R. he has not been apprised of the timeline for the project receiving city approvals or when construction would begin. He said once it is approved then the project sponsors can seek state funding for it.

"I think that, I hope, this project will be competitive for state funding because the need is huge," he said. "They still need to put the financing together and need to apply for tax credits for this project. That will probably drive the timing more than anything else."

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.