The proposal to keep affordable housing out of the 800-foot tower rising at 181 Fremont Street has been recommended for approval and will be presented to San Francisco’s Planning Commission next month.

As we first reported last month, San Francisco’s Transbay Redevelopment Plan requires any new housing development within the redevelopment area to offer at least 15 percent of its units at below market rates, a key component of the Mayor’s “Housing For All” initiative and for which there is no option for paying an in-lieu fee or building a greater number of affordable units off-site instead.

The developer of the 181 Fremont Street tower appears to have successfully negotiated a one-off variance from the plan, however, a variance which will obviate the need to include any affordable housing within the development and allow it to be “poor door” free.

In exchange for the variance, the Jay Paul Company will pay $13.85 million into an affordable housing fund, roughly $1.26 million for each of the eleven units which would have had to have been offered at below market rates per the plan.

And if the variance is approved, all 74 units to be built atop the 800-foot-tall Fremont Street tower will be sold to the highest bidders, and with prices which are likely to start at well over $2,000 per square foot.

The 181 Fremont Street tower is one of the Transbay District developments which benefited from an up-zoning in height in exchange for paying a Community Facilities District tax to fund the development of San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center, the contribution to which is being challenged and could result in litigation.

19 thoughts on “Agreement To Keep Affordable Housing Out Of New Tower”
  1. man, that’s unreal money, they could build those units in pacific heights for that. at that price per sqft I hope all these developments opt out.

  2. The build taller crowd is so lost now. They keep writing that more tall towers of housing will create more supply and reduce housing costs …..WRONG. instead we need to accept that SF is becoming an upper income urban residential environment . These tower dwellers are not looking to mix with the great unwashed or live next to them. Time to give up on the build taller myth and instead build more transit to affordable areas instead. Towers are fine but they do not reduce housing costs, are expensive to build, and expensive to buy in.

    1. 1) let the rich people have their towers and keep them from moving into my modest apartment and jacking up the rent
      2) supply and demand – more units = more options = not having to settle on a crazy expensive apartment
      3) please save the “unwashed” elitist attitude. i could never afford to live in this building but i don’t resent the people who will. some of them will probably be really nice people. it’s judgmental and makes people even more biased against much needed new construction when you assume that anyone who can live in a tower is doing so out of spite.

      1. The Pharisees and the scribes asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples follow the traditions taught by our ancestors? They are unclean because they don’t wash their hands before they eat!” He replied, “… the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.”

        BUDDHA: One does not become pure by washing, as do the multitude of mortals in this world; he who casts away every sin, great and small, he is a Brahmin who has cast off sin.

  3. So exactly how is this transit going to be funded if there is no major development in SF?

    And what exactly is the link between NOT building taller and the transit that you think will be miraculously funded?

    And why should we be stuck housing your working class anyway? Low density suburban housing (especially moderate priced housing) doesn;t really pay its way anyway, over the long term.

    So the BANANA crowd (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) seems to be the “lost” bunch to me.

  4. No, build as many towers as you want, just don’t pretend they reduce housing costs. I am all for more towers, and live in one myself. Greetings from 38 floors above the street level. Name one tower over 30 stories that is “affordable”. Buying in Richmond is affordable.

  5. “No, build as many towers as you want, just don’t pretend they reduce housing costs.”

    Right, not when you build only a couple here and there, and spend years developing them. San Francisco and the surrounding urban inner Bay Area could benefit from thousands of towers but that will not happen any time soon–eventually it will, just not in the near term.

  6. I know people paying 3500 a month for a crappy one bedroom in the Mission. They’d much rather pay 4k and live on the 25th floor in a building with a doorman. But there are very few of those available. So they rent a place that used to cost 1k and maybe should cost as much as 2k for 3,500. Now they are living in an older building and paying a lot for it, and an older building that would have been affordable is no longer affordable.

    In a city where a large number of single people are making $150k and up, building housing for them will reduce pressure on lower income people. It will also prevent much of the “displacement” we’ve heard so much about.

  7. Agree with Frog. I know of many people who are renters but could afford to buy if the right type of residential units were available. Great example regarding demand for 1br units in doorman building, and if it had parking they would probably pay even higher and could afford that as well. Coming from Chicago where high rise units in doorman buildings are the norm instead of the exception, the lack of quality housing in this city is shocking especially for the prices charged.

  8. Yeah, East Coast transplants may like these, but they may also like the idea of something a little funkier that speaks to living in a SF neighborhood. The other problem with these high rises as housing is how much of it is second or even third homes for people looking to park some money some place.

    1. I keep hearing from people how much of the condos are purchased by non-residents. Is there a study or survey somewhere where this can be verified?

      Also, isn’t it better to have non-residents paying property tax without using services?

    2. It depends on your measure of funkitude. I live in a conversion loft like space (all on one level) which is pretty “funky.” But there are a lot of older victorians or 1960s apartments or in-law units that are just disgusting. One could argue that the Palms is pretty “funky” although one would be wrong. I guess I’m trying to figure out how to build new buildings that are sufficiently funky, because unless they have secret passageways or are built to look like a Moorish castle, new construction is kind of the opposite of funky.

  9. The HOA fees at the nearby St Regis are north of 2k per month. I am sure the HOA fees at this Tower will be just as much. If the developer incuded the BMR, would these residents be required to pay 2k per month just as the other resident? I believe so.

    1. As I understand it, most HOA’s base their monthly fees on the unit’s square footage not the sale price. BMR pay the same per square foot as market rate buyers.

  10. This is a great deal for everyone. The BMR program should not be a lottery for placing low/middle income people into ultra-luxury condos like this. It’s better to spend the money on much cheaper traditional housing, but much more of it to help more people. Even taking SF gov’t incompetence into account, $13.85 million should be able to build much more than 11 units that people will still be thrilled to live in.

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