San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has embarked on an important mission. Understanding the limitations of the city’s housing stock pushed to limits by an ever-growing workforce, he had declared a goal of building an incremental 30,000 units of housing in the city by the year 2020. A large and impressive number by any means that has its share of champions and critics alike.[contextly_sidebar id=”b34413079a04ece95231dcd4dcbd9bbc”]On Thursday, the city marked a decidedly important step in achieving that goal by helping celebrate the groundbreaking of Equity Residential’s newest project in San Francisco at 340 Fremont Street. The 40-story tower, designed by Handel Architects’ team of Glenn Rescalvo, John Ishihara and Richard Felix-Ashman, will be built by Suffolk Construction, led locally by the venerable Andy Ball. While the 348 units of the new tower will represent just over 1 percent of the Mayor’s goal, the significance of the project was not lost on the Mayor and Equity’s top brass.
Mark Tennison, executive vice president of development at Equity Residential, who arrived from the company’s Chicago headquarters, explained the importance of the region to the company’s strategic objectives. “Equity Residential’s focus is to own and manage high quality rental housing in high density, high barrier urban markets like San Francisco.” He added that of the approximately 111,000 units nationwide, 13,000 are in the Bay Area among the 50 projects the company owns here. 30,000 people live in those units, and the company wanted everyone to understand its commitment to the region.
The Mayor understands the significance of companies like Equity Residential playing an important role in his goals, too. “Our city must be investor confident. We have to have investors like Equity Residential feeling they are welcome in the city, because then they can help us build the kinds of things that we want built,” said Mayor Lee. Part of that desire is to also construct affordable and workforce housing. The value of those on this project alone approaches $16 million.
Jim Kelly, Equity’s first vice president of development in San Francisco also added praise for the city’s ability to move the process through its various departments. “The city’s planning, zoning and building departments have been phenomenal for us on this project and, in fact, on other projects we’re working on in the city,” he said.
Equity Residential is planning to complete 340 Fremont by 2016. According to Tennison, the company is currently developing projects across the region, including developments in San Jose and Berkeley, totaling 1,600 units for a value of approximately $1.5 billion.