255 Fremont Street Site

The ground has formally been broken for 120 affordable apartments to rise on Transbay Block 7 (a.k.a. 255 Fremont), behind the new 32-story tower dubbed Solaire on Transbay Block 6 (a.k.a. 299 Fremont), between Fremont and Beale.

Originally slated for an 85-unit building, the structural design for 255 Fremont was changed from primarily wood to steel, allowing Mercy Housing to build 3 stories higher, add 35 units and reduce the projected per unit costs through greater economies of scale.

The projected cost per unit for the 120-unit 255 Fremont Street project will be $503,703, or $288,402 per bedroom (which doesn’t account for the value of the land but does include $2.5 million in development fees for Mercy).

And when completed in early 2018, the apartments will be rented to households earning between 50 and 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Tony

    Why so short?

    • Posted by EcceMorons

      Because it would be mean to ask the recipients of Subsidized Primo-Location units to take long elevator rides.

      • Posted by soccermom

        At least we didn’t build three times as many units a ferry ride away.

        • Posted by woolie

          It isn’t substantially less expensive to build in Oakland. I’ve seen similar costs for affordable units here.

          • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

            When I read soccormom’s comment I immediately thought of Vallejo where there’s a load of affordable housing already and plenty of opportunity to build up in the downtown area, walking distance to the ferry port. Kind of a long ferry ride but it is enjoyable and would make an effortless commute to downtown SF.

        • Posted by Orland

          Why so exclusionary?

        • Posted by soccermom

          Oakland is not the only other community on the bay.

        • Posted by Mr Pants

          It’s SF city/county funds, not Alameda/Oakland city funds.

      • Posted by Orland

        Typical SS stereotypical racist claptrap.

        • Posted by NoeNeighbor

          How was anything that was said racist? Your response is typical PC BS that attempts to shut down others rather than engage. Obviously you don’t have anything intelligent to say, so you resort to smears.

        • Posted by Futurist

          There was nothing said or implied here about “racist claptrap” Orland. Not cool for you to say that. Not cool at all.

        • Posted by Fishchum

          How exactly was Eccemorons’ comment “racist”? Explain, please.

          • Posted by Orland

            Mea culpa — I meant to reply to his/her/its post below referring to “residents of 3rd World nations” implying that only people of color will qualify for BMR status.

          • Posted by EcceMorons

            How in the world did you get the impression that my 3rd world comment implied anything about “people of color” being the only ones to get BMR units? The point is simple – BMR units give a huge benefit to a very few lucky lottery winners – at the expense of others ($900,000 BMR units built with taxpayer funds, being a windfall for a handful, and zilch for no one else). It’s a stupid “solution” which is just done to score political points. Man, you sound like you’re looking under rocks, trying to find “racism” everywhere….

          • Posted by Orland

            Gimme a break. No need to go snooping under rocks, your racially-tinged sentiments are quite apparent. Why even draw a comparison between an urban scheme to assure a more economically diverse community and the “3rd World?” This antipathy towards resort to BMR units ostensibly on the grounds of “fairness” is a total ruse. What does it matter who specifically populates the units so long as the purpose of the policy is met? Seems the “who” that bothers you so much is racially bigoted (i.e.’ “3rd World”).

          • Posted by EcceMorons

            Discussing this with a pigeon would result in a more reality-based conversation than this one turned into.

            Oh, wait – is comparing your diatribe to that of a speaking pigeon specie-ist? I’ll go apologize to the pigeon. I have great compassion for all species. Didn’t want you to read disrespect into that…

          • Posted by Orland

            I really don’t understand what motivates the censorship inclinations of the editors here. Don’t expect this to last long.

          • Posted by EcceMorons

            Eh, if the editors want to let you make absurd posts about me being a racist, I have no problem with that. They don’t need to censor it.

            If you have a problem with me making fun of you for doing so, perhaps you can ask them for a “safe space” – or at least a “trigger warning.”

        • Posted by Stop Driving

          Where did you get your faux outrage? Twitter?

    • Posted by Stakes Is High

      More than likely, it’s cost.

      Everyone seems to forget that it costs a lot to build a mid / high-rise. Budgets bare heavy limitations on the outcome of a project, height (and obviously materials) being a major one. It’s not a bottomless pit of funds to build these towers, no matter how foreign the process seems to be.

      • Posted by francis

        the building code has additional requirements for buildings where the floor of the top floor is above 75′ – thats why you see lots of 8 story buildings.

  2. Posted by Paul

    Yay, projects in downtown.

  3. Posted by EcceMorons

    In other news, “San Francisco solves World Poverty” by issuing Lotto tickets to all residents of 3rd World nations.

  4. Posted by alussier

    In my walk-commute, I sometimes cut through that alleyway on the south side of this project, which is faced by the Solaire townhouses. It’s surprisingly well-executed as a landscape plan, and along with the sidewalk treatments on Folsom, bodes well for this area as a neighborhood. This project seems to scale nicely along this alleyway.

    • Posted by Oaklandlover

      Agreed with you. I do the same myself. I love that new walkway. With the park tower getting going this area is really shaping up.

    • Posted by Orland

      I’m familiar with the alleyway and agree it quite well done and that one can begin to get a feel for what the larger district will be like when built out which is very positive.

      What I can’t understand is why there is no sign at its entrance off Beale warning drivers that is a “No Through Street” in that bollards at its opposite end prevent egress to Fremont St. In addition to a walkway, it is the access to the tower’s underground parking the entrance to which is near the far end. I wonder how many motorists backed up in traffic on Beale at Folsom have made that turn figuring they could easily cut through only to too late realize they have to either reverse or try to get turned around.

      • Posted by Oaklandlover

        I thought originally the walkway/alley was designed to be an extension of the off ramp creating a 4 way intersection vs the t split style intersection it is.

        I was pleasantly surprised by my apparent misread of the overall design and resulting pedestrian path which I love.

        I agree though it’s probably confusing to motorists unclear with the streets as they come off the ramp. There are those 3 or 4 little poles that are the clear roadblock, and also there is an actual curb cut in the sidewalk for vehicles to come into the alley/path. Seems like a wreck waiting to happen.

        The whole intersection is a bit whacky right now I hope the plan is to improve it once the above mentioned building gets built.

        ….oh and that huge vacant dirt lot across the street! I think that’s the Tetris tower that was going to have the whole foods at one point?? When are they gonna break ground on that tower? I thought I saw some false starts / architectural digs (I did see this) a few months ago but now the site seems on pause again.

        • Posted by Orland

          RE: Transbay Block 8 adjoining Solaire to the west, according to the developer’s website, ground breaking to occur “Fall 2016” (note: we are hours short of the autumnal equinox). Completion anticipated 2019.

  5. Posted by spruce

    The building heights of all parcels in Transbay were set by the master plan back in +/-’09. Each block has a tower and several mid-rise parcels. The same plan set the streetscape to be executed by all blocks along Folsom.

  6. Posted by Sassy

    I like the scale and massing of what looks like 3 buildings lining the alleyway. Unfortunately, the taller bookend buildings look clumsy in their articulation while the shorter middle one is handsome. It’s as if something “interesting” was added last minute. A missed opportunity, especially for the one that will greet cars straight on, coming from the off ramp.

  7. Posted by Sabbie

    Tell me if I have this right. The AMI for two is $77,000. 55% is $43,250. A couple working full time at the new minimum wage of $15 would earn around $62,400. So, the incentive here is for at least one earner to cut back their barista hours in order to qualify for the affordable housing. Also, can you remind me why I ever bothered graduating high school?

    • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

      @Sabbie, if so inclined, even a PhD can take a minimum wage/part time job if they want. Its simply perspective.

      • Posted by Sabbie

        There’s nothing wrong with part time minimum wage jobs. But why should that net you the privilege of living in a prime SF location that’s coveted by millions of more productive citizens?

        • Posted by Jake

          Simple, will of the people as expressed by their public servants. And ya gotta be kidding about “more productive citizens”, money in the bankster vaults or epic cashflood doesn’t equate to productivity. Just ask Carrie Tolstedt.

          Of course it is also the will of the people of the great State of California to gift massive tax breaks to very very wealthy property owners regardless of their “productivity” and that provides a public subsidy to them to live in “prime ….” When are we going to means test prop 13?

        • Posted by Mark

          So, you’re saying that there’s a direct connection between wealth and productivity. Oh, okay.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Communism already failed sorry. If you give perverse incentives you’ll get perverse results. I’m not talking about some Wall Street banksters, I’m talking about letting a part time minimum wage earning barista get preferential treatment over their small business owner employer for example, or their own child’s teacher, or the mechanic that fixes their car. How does that make any sense at all?

          • Posted by Jake

            Uh, try democracy, as in the will of the people. If you don’t like it then you can try to change the laws. Sheesh, in California you can even get the people to vote directly on it. Go BFD (ballot for democracy) or go home.

            As far as making sense, well, the lottery and slot machines don’t make economic sense to play, but many people do. Maybe the BMRish lotteries are the same way: offering thrills, fun, and a shot at prizes otherwise outta reach for so many. Fortunately, in a democracy we don’t have to justify our laws or curious practices to people that can’t tell the difference between commies and the common pursuit of happy.

            As far as perversity, well, you’re the one with the dirty pictures in your mind’s eye.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            It’s your tax money that these people are dropping into the slot machine. There’s nothing common about that pursuit, it’s simply taking from one group of people and giving to the other. We can do the same with any desirable product like BMWs or fine wine, but in the end, it just creates a new privileged class based on politics. The only nation left in the world that subscribes to that model is North Korea. Perhaps you should defect, I see a bright future for someone like you in the Party, comrade!

          • Posted by Jake

            if you put all the time you spend worrying about where your tax monies go into the great American game of avoiding paying taxes, then you would have more money and less of your precious tithe to worry about how the commies in city hall abuse it.
            As for me, well, I save far more in ordinary tax breakthroughs like the mortgage interest deduction and prop 13 to worry about the trifle of my monies that go to the less fortunate. Let’s make America great again: more free money for everyone.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            You mean the MORE fortunate, with lots of leisure time and plenty of cheap entertainment to fill it. There’s a big difference between helping and enabling, and it’s really not that hard to tell them apart.

          • Posted by Stop Driving

            Sabbie, you need to learn what communism means before you start talking about it. I’ll give you a little hint, it’s about workers owning the means of production, it has nothing to do with subsidized housing, which happens in all developed countries worth visiting. Your reference to North Korea just makes you look foolish.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            My parents defected from a communist country to come here, I know exactly what’s it about, you’re the one who has no clue.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            If someone is able to plan things out and make career/job changes such that:

            The combined income of their household is in the precise, narrow band of 50-60% AMI, and
            They enter and win the lottery for a BMR unit against long odds, and
            They then maintain that low (but not too low) income year after year — as income is monitored annually — and forgo all benefits of higher earnings,

            just to rent a modest apartment and save about $1500/mo on rent . . .

            More power to them! That is just the type of smart, clever, forward-thinking person we want in this economy!

            I suspect that people who have these planning skills and smarts would be more likely to use those traits to simply earn more money. They’d come out way, way ahead that way.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Yeah, well shame they couldn’t raise the limit to a reasonable level, so that perhaps some gainfully employed middle class people, such as our public school teachers for example, or even our city maintenance workers, could qualify for this housing and not have to put so much energy into planning to work the system.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            It’s on the ballot – Measure U

            May be the only state proposition or local measure that I vote “Y” on.

          • Posted by Jake

            The truth of it doesn’t depend on my postings, or on the Google cache, or your belief. That ain’t how truth works, don’t cha know?

            Regardless, I believe it is true, though you are welcome to explain otherwise, if it pleases you.

            My parents grew up in an area that grows a yuge amount of corn, but that doesn’t make me an expert on corn farming. Didn’t make them experts on it either. Now, maybe your parents know enough about communism in their homeland to have avoided the lack of nuance in your silly posts above, but they have at least one child that doesn’t.

            Interesting how when others have called you out for this silliness here on this thread you offer no justification, just conjecture, yet expect others to explicate to please you. And yes, you are very vocal about it, even vociferous.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Ok then let me help you out. There are no perverse incentives associated with Prop 13, and if you got rid of Prop 13, you’d have to get rid of rent control. It’s no accident that rent control measures failed to pass in the 1970s until after Prop 13 was finally passed.

            But I must say, since you’re a long time SF property owner, it is very magnanimous to champion the rollback of Prop 13 and offer to pay higher property taxes. Perhaps while you’re waiting for the rest of us dummies to catch up to your way of thinking, the city would just accept a donation in lieu?

          • Posted by Jake

            Yeah, well, maybe we disagree, okey dokey. If you would offer even a shred of evidence, maybe you would get more agreement. As is, no reason to believe your assertions about this any more than your assertions about communalism at scale. Your personal confidence is worth the parity bits it is packetized with.

            As to my magnanimism, sure, in a more perfect union we would unwind bad laws riddled with perverse incentives, like prop 13 and rent control and the designated hitter. And if the great unwinding overly increases the total tax haul, then lowering some other taxes, very thick book of ’em to choose from.

            Since the sheeple are unlikely to give back their crumbs, my task–the Party’s task–is to organize defeat. From defeat would spring the Revolution…and the Revolution would be victory for us. Vote Drumf, and organize defeat.

        • Posted by Brian M

          Why are you assuming that wealth always equals productivity? There are other factors involved as well. Including sociopathic tendencies (why is the CEO of Wells not in jail awaiting trial?).

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Not wealth, compensation. Like I said above, the owner of the business where the barista works should probably take home more than the barista. The person who went to college to obtain an education degree and now teaches the barista’s child should probably take home more pay than the barista who flunked out of high school. Yes we have huge problems in our society where crony capitalism has led to people becoming wealthy by basically being parasites, and I’m very vocal about them. But at the end of the day, it’s about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. The former is capitalist and the latter is communist. We badly need to restore equality of opportunity in this country, but handing out free stuff with no strings attached is not the way to do it. Again, it’s the difference between helping and enabling.

          • Posted by Jake

            Compensation doesn’t equal productivity either. Having done capitalistic business for many years in the most populace of all countries commie or otherwise, I can assure everyone that they are not “about…equality of outcome.” If ya wanna see some crony capitalism on a scale and with a lack of accountability to make DJ Trump’s stubby fingers quiver with overreaching awe, checkout the families of the Politburo Standing Committee (of PRC), current and former. Which reminds of the famous joke about Brezhnev’s mother….

            Sabbie, whatever simple formulations you’ve been smoking with the labels “capitalism” and “communism” ain’t how they work in the real world, not exactly, not even close.

            In our representative democracy of California, generations of we the sheeple have chosen to bestow favors a plenty to ourselfishnesses. Of course, if you don’t like a system in which the people are empowered to give themselves scraps from the commonwealth table, there’s always the land of your forebears.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I’ll do one better, I’m moving out of this City next summer after 20 years and leaving it to the Top Three Percenters, the homeless and their Beacons, the Comrades of the BOS and their Gimme Gimme progressive voting bloc, the overpriced and mediocre small plates, the lost Uber drivers from Antioch, the subways to nowhere, and the uniform techie hordes staring down at their phones. Of course I’ll remain in California so I can still take advantage of Prop 13.

          • Posted by Jake

            “Of course I’ll remain in California so I can still take advantage of Prop 13” and remain a prisoner of the welfare state.

            Why not flee beyond the reach of these perverse incentives? You have nothing to lose but your chains.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            Describe the perverse incentive aspect of Prop 13 please.

          • Posted by Jake

            Google your last post and you will find many descriptions, if you please.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            So there is none. You mad because you didn’t buy a house when they were affordable and now there’s not enough tax money for the government to build you some subsidized housing too? Maybe you’re forgetting that if Prop 13 were taken away, any increases would be passed through to the tenant, and rent control would not be viable anymore.

          • Posted by Amewsed

            Sabbie: why bother trying to present your views to a bunch of people who have never understood the concepts and never will? Just enjoy life, travel the world, and maximize the existing advantages and opportunities. Having recently returned from NYC, I wonder why I am still here. Most would agree SF politics are backwards.

          • Posted by Jake

            Uh, no, folks have been describing the perverse incentives of prop 13 since well before you moved to SF. If you are too lazy to look ’em up (ahem google…), or too suborn to acknowledge them, then I ain’t gonna feed your content-free screed.
            And I’m not mad. I think you’re hilarious in a ridiculous sorta way. Rent control don’t depend on prop 13 to be economically viable or attractive to renters. It would hang around even with more tax pass-through. There is a historic political relationship between prop 13 and CA rent control that I’ve posted about on SS before.
            FTR, I’ve owned property in SF since before you arrived. Plan to own here long after you are gone.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            So it’s true because Google and you’ve posted it before. Ok.

        • Posted by Zig

          It’s just a prerequisite to try the lottery. Give it a shot

        • Posted by Mr Pants

          Have you seen affordable housing besides a market rate? Yes, they might occupy the same development but the quality of everything is very different. The only things in common are sharing that concert walls and common hallways to get to the unit. Everything inside the unit is drastically different. BMR owners also pay the same HOA rate as a market rate owner.

          At the end of the day you can certainly take a massive pay cut to fall into these AMI indexes, and with our market on medium income jobs that is probably going to be 50+% percentage cut.

          For a RENTAL, the odds of wining the lotto are <1%. BMRs are closer to around 6 to 10%.
          The finish is way lower, you get almost no resale value.
          Both BMRs and rentals are pretty much long term stable leases with the city.

          BMRs just require more up front money to get into, hence the higher odds of winning the lottery.

      • Posted by Mark

        And many did, including lawyers and other white collar professionals, during the bust.

    • Posted by Mark F.

      You forget the fact that you likely will only have a 1/100 chance of winning the lottery for this place. (Btw, I lucked out in getting a BMR unit in Berkeley without going through a lottery.)

      • Posted by Sabbie

        The more affordable housing is built, the greater your chance. So again… if I am in high school, what’s the point of working to graduate if I can score a sweet pad in downtown SF for doing LESS THAN THE MINIMUM (aka working part time at minimum wage)? On top of that I can probably get some free food stamps to spend at Rainbow Grocery and who knows what else.

        • Posted by NorthBeach

          It’s not too late, you know. You can still join these privileged masses – quit your current job and find something that pays minimum wage, maybe at a non-profit that fights the fight you care about? I’m sure that your BMR apartment and free food stamps for Rainbow Grocery will keep you happy and fulfilled.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I’ll bet the vast majority of non profit workers make way too much to qualify for this housing.

          • Posted by NorthBeach

            You’d be surprised, then. Even something as qualified as a lawyer working for a non-profit often makes only about $30-$40k a year. It’s often very low pay, and they get away with it because people are working for things they believe in.

            But I bet if you ask nicely to be paid less in order to live a life in luxury, I’m sure they’ll oblige.

        • Posted by Southsider

          Sabbie, do you think the “privileged” minimum wage earners that qualify for the subsidized housing are going to have the same nest egg at retirement that your “productive” employment provides for you? Will they have cash available to provide experiences to their children outside of school that are important to the their development and improve their chances of achieving success? Are they going to be able to support their children with money for college so their kids don’t graduate with a mountain of debt behind them? Will they have money available to help their family through a catastrophic life event like an accident, illness, or early death? I suppose it makes sense to give up all that security and opportunity just so you can live downtown on the cheap. Oh, no wait, it doesn’t make any sense. I guess I missed your point. Can you explain it to me again?

          • Posted by Sabbie

            You’re missing the point. I’m not adamantly opposed to affordable housing or government aid. But the cutoff to qualify for this housing is LESS THAN THE MINIMUM. A couple working full time at $15 doesn’t even qualify! That’s ludicrous, that’s a dis-incentive to work. Can we at least make it so that starting public school teachers are eligible?

            NorthBeach, I already did the math for you above. A couple making more than $43,000 does not qualify for this housing. That’s $21,500 per person, per year.

        • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

          If this keeps up, the next crazy thing will be something like charging kids lower tuition for college if their parents earn less money. If they did some communist thing like that, you can bet that I’d quit my job and start applying for a barista gig so my two high school kids (and I) can get that sweet deal. But I’m talking fantasy nonsense, because who would ever work and earn money with a silly disincentive like that in place?

          • Posted by Sabbie

            That’s silly, but it’s not far fetched to imagine one person from a couple asking their boss to cut back their hours so that they could get into this sweet downtown action. You said they can save $1,500/mo on rent, well working 20 hours per week at $15 is only $1,200/mo and that’s before taxes. Cut your hours to part time and you come out ahead by over $300 on rent plus you gain all that free time. It doesn’t take a genius. I’m just curious as to exactly who the City imagines will apply for these units, since people like maintenance workers and teachers won’t even qualify.

          • Posted by JR "Bob" Dobbs

            There are about 100,000 households in SF earning $25,000 – $75,000 (another 75,000 who earn less than $25,000). So, perhaps 40,000 fall within this % AMI range. The lottery lists for these units are huge. There is no shortage of working people who really could use that $1500/mo savings. I suspect that the number of higher earners who would willingly cut their earnings for the very slim chance of winning that lottery is few to none.

            Think single parent earning $40,000. Think families with a disabled parent earning that amount. Think the huge numbers in SF who would love to earn what a teacher or city maintenance worker earns – the idea that they are willingly cutting their own pay to be able to play this lottery is kind of insulting. The pool of potential tenants for these units is no mystery.

          • Posted by Sabbie

            I dunno, still not convinced. Sounds like the people you’re describing are pretty well priced out of San Francisco, it could be time for greener pastures where housing is cheaper? Not sure why the some of the very lowest earners should get a crack at a brand spanking new unit in one of the very most expensive locations. I mean I’m all for lending them a helping hand, but with this scheme it almost seems like the BOS are just gunning for votes. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to just enter them in a monthly drawing for a new BMW plus five runners up get a Gucci handbag?

    • Posted by Mars

      Or a single mom with two kids? It’s mostly families with children who move in here. two parents and three kids, or one parent and multiple kids, adults with elderly parents, etc.

  8. Posted by scott f

    If there were any justice in this world, they’d build five times as tall with a private developer funding the cost difference and 75% of the additional units being market rate.

    • Posted by Mark

      First of all, there is no justice. Second, there’s a big difference between height and scale. Not everything going up has to be a million stories tall.

  9. Posted by Sara Short

    How regressive, luxury subsidized housing for a anointed special few, while the other 99.9% of everyone else gets nothing.

    • Posted by Mark

      Nothing about this building screams “luxury.”

      • Posted by EcceMorons

        The location screams “luxury”.

        • Posted by Mr Pants

          Location perhaps. The units inside will be of the lowest functional grade. Don’t expect Lumina finish or luxury anything.

  10. Posted by BT

    These should be market rate. Free the free market!

  11. Posted by Stop Driving

    The middle gets squeezed yet again. If you don’t have millions of dollars, or make more than $85K, you’re pretty much screwed in San Francisco. The people making $80-200K are the ones really hurting in San Francisco.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      You’re close. It’s the young people making $80-200 who are hurting. People who’ve been here a long time, purchased 30 years ago or whose parents have a place here are doing just fine.

  12. Posted by Shmendrick

    Ground has either been broken, or it hasn’t. What does ‘formally broken’ mean? Were the workers all wearing their tuxedos?

    • Posted by Mr Pants

      Usually means when the people like a mayor/project developer lead come along and stick a shove into the ground. It’s all ceremonial.

  13. Posted by Mars

    I wonder how many thousand of applications they will receive for these few apartments.

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