By Meghan Hall
Three large development projects that will transform San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood have received preliminary approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission over the past several weeks, putting in motion years of planning efforts to bring more diverse housing stock to central San Francisco. The projects that moved forward—30 Van Ness, 10 South Van Ness and 98 Franklin—are expected to add at least a combined 1,600 units to central San Francisco, many of which will be designated as affordable.
The largest of the three projects is 10 South Van Ness. Proposed by national developer Crescent Heights, the project is expected to have 980 residential units, plus 30,000 square feet of cafes, restaurants and active social spaces. 30 Van Ness, to be redeveloped by Lendlease, will include 333 residential units, of which 25 percent will be affordable—a point that the Planning Commission highlighted in its recent review of the project. In addition, Lendlease will also contribute $10 million in affordable housing fees to the City of San Francisco.
The most recently reviewed project, which received preliminary approvals from the Planning Commission last week, is 98 Franklin. Proposed by Related California, will rise 36 stories and include 345 residential units. Similar to the Lendlease project, 25 percent of the units will also be designated as affordable, going beyond the minimum 18 percent affordable housing requirement established by the City. The units will be a mix of studio-, one- and two-bedroom apartments, according to planning documents.
Additionally, the first five stories of the 98 Franklin project will house the French American International School, which serves some 800 families on an annual basis. In addition to ground floor retail and a café, the podium will also house the school’s multipurpose and assembly room.
“This project will create a world-class high school for our diverse, innovative school on one of the last parcels in Hayes Valley,” explained Melinda Bihn, head of the French American International School. “It’s not just another market rate project. It is a special combination of education and mixed-income rentals…This is exactly the type of mixed-use, mixed-income development that we believe will serve our city well into the future.”
The project will also include common usable open space in the form of roof deck terrace, below grade parking, and a public art component. Other infrastructure improvements, such as sidewalk raising and widening, the addition of trees and other streetscape improvements are included in the plans.
“I am delighted to see Oak Street starting to have a meaning again,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore. “That particular street has been a no-man’s land from Franklin to Market for too many years, and all of the sudden there seems to be an emerging dialogue between buildings and actions and uses that hopefully will [make it] a meaningful street.”
After reviewing the 98 Franklin project, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to adopt CEQA findings for the project, adopt a downtown authorization request—which would grant the project exception to several code requirements—and the findings of a shadow report, which examined how the tower would impact surrounding green space.
The approvals follow on the heels of another recent Planning Commission vote to approve the rezoning of 18 different parcels. The parcels, which are situated within an 84-acre area known as the Hub District, allows for significant height increases so long as developers provide an ample amount of affordable housing within the project. Should the City maximize development on all 18 sites, the Hub Plan Area could see as many as 11,600 new residential units come to market in the future, according to public documents.
Construction of new housing in 2019 in San Francisco totaled more than 4,850 units, an 81 percent increase from 2018, according to a March 2020 report released by the City. As a result, 2019 represented the second-highest production total in the past 20 years. Affordable housing production during the past year totaled 1,456 units, twice the number of affordable units produced in 2018 and close to 50 percent above the five-year average of about 980 affordable units. In all, new affordable units made up 30 percent of residences added to San Francisco’s housing stock.