By Meghan Hall
San Francisco’s Mission District is a vibrant and dynamic neighborhood at the heart of the city. Like much of San Francisco, The Mission is of special interest to developers who are looking to take advantage of the city’s remaining urban infill sites, particularly those close to other bustling districts like the South of Market neighborhood or Central Business District. Among those is San Francisco’s Mark MacDonald of DM Development, who has submitted a proposal to construct a 151-unit residential building at 321 Florida St.
Initial plans indicate that DM Development hopes to construct a 9-story building on what is currently a vacant parking lot. The project would also include 1,577 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 64 parking spaces. Currently, 5,788 square feet of common open space is provided. However, planning documents indicate that 11,280 square feet of common open space is required and that the application team may need to request a concession.
Florida St., where the project site is located, has an inconsistent street scape. The lots surrounding 321 Florida primarily contain two to four story industrial buildings from different eras, but more contemporary and recently constructed projects have built upon the industrial character of this portion of the neighborhood. The site is within walking distance to Franklin Square Park, Starbucks and a shopping center anchored by Safeway and Ross. Despite several eateries and shops nearby, however, project documents indicate that currently there are not many sites with activated ground floor retail on Florida St.
“The project presents the opportunity to infill a large gap in the street wall with new housing, improving the walkability and urban qualities of the street and neighborhood,” the City stated in its Preliminary Project Assessment.
In the letter, City officials encouraged DM Development to design the building in order to better encourage an active public realm and pedestrian environment through both a smaller lobby and ground floor, sidewalk-accessible units. The City also supported the project team’s endeavor to keep the existing character of the neighborhood in the building’s design and suggested that DM Development use large window openings, piers and a strong vertical composition.
The project site is also easily accessible via Interstate 80, State Route 101 and the 16th Mission Street BART station.
DM Development has built several residential buildings across the City of San Francisco, including projects such as 8 Octavia Blvd., 400 Gove St. and 450 Hayes St. Based on the company’s website, DM Development has largely focused on infill projects that range from a few dozen units to 70 or 80 units in size. Their luxury residential projects are found in popular neighborhoods such as the Dogpatch and Hayes Valley. It often develops condominium complexes, such as its 2465 Van Ness. Ave. property, which is set to deliver 41 one-, two- and three-bedroom homes this year.
It is unclear from the initial project plans whether or not the 321 Florida St. property will be developed into apartments or condominiums. However, San Francisco is a strong market for both product types. According to CBRE’s Multifamily Marketview Snapshot from the fourth quarter of 2018, 25,131 units are currently under construction within the city of San Francisco, and vacancy rate hovers at around 3.9 percent for apartment properties. And, according to Polaris Pacific research released in February of 2019, the San Francisco condominium market was an excellent year for condo sales; condo prices per square foot rose to $1,252, up 6.6 percent from 2017. On average, condos within San Francisco sold for around $1.4 million, while sales volume also rose by 6.5 percent.
Apartments and condominiums are snapped up quickly as job creation continues and many of the region’s companies continue to grow, with experts from both firms predicting strong fundamentals for both product types in the future. However, before the project can break ground, DM Development will need to wait for the City to complete its environmental review and apply for a large project authorization.
DM Development declined to comment for this story, stating it was too early in the planning process for the firm to comment.