The ground for the 141-unit modular development to rise on Mission Bay South Block 9, adjacent to San Francisco’s new Public Safety Building and across the street from Phase 2 of the Giants’ massive Mission Rock development, is tentatively slated to be broken this June.

If everything goes as planned, the four-story development will take around 17 months to complete (versus closer to 24 months if fully built on-site) and should be ready for occupancy by the end of next year.

The development will be managed by BRIDGE Housing and Community Housing Partnership.

And once again, the 141 studio units, which will average around 400 square feet apiece and had been projected to cost around $427,000 per unit to develop, including common areas but not accounting for the value of the underlying (publicly-owned) land, will be made available to currently homeless and extremely low-income households earning less than 30 percent of the area median income, the individual threshold for which is currently $25,850 per year or $29,550 for a couple.

38 thoughts on “Below Market Rate Modular Studios Closer to Reality”
        1. Basically they use sawn four sides lumber to build the structural framing for their modules, which means approximately 20% of their lumber intake has to be rejected because of warping and checking. When you are doing modular 1/8″ tolerance is necessary. Katerra has been doing it, same with Factory OS….and it is really the bottom rung of the industry. Modular only makes sense with higher volume, and to do that one needs to go higher. Check out panoramic interests or rad urban if you want to see the future of modular.

          1. Is this a joke? The cost of the lumber itself is a tiny fraction of the total price.

            The joke is that the guy who started Bridge Housing to get into the subsidized housing game also started FactoryOS.

            Panoramic is a developer and not a manufacturer like FactoryOS.

    1. Doesn’t this just demonstrate the folly that we’re going to somehow build our way out of an “(affordable) housing crisis”? Unless of course there’s a corresponding plan to make sure everyone makes $80K+ (which would seem to upset…some posters here)

      1. I don’t think the folks saying that if we do things like enable development “by right” and rezone 90% of the city for multi-family, high density housing that “we will build our way out of an affordable housing crisis.” That is just political rhetoric. Same as the “It’s Econ 101, if we build more prices will fall” nonsense.

        What they mean is that taking those public policy steps will provide developers, flippers, real estate agents and other hangers-on in the real estate “game” with more opportunities to make more money, before they leave for Texas or Florida, and the long-time residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area in general with an overpopulated, unlivable hellscape. Either that or runaway gentrification will price all the current residents with less than the salary level you mentioned out of the area.

        1. It’s not just flippers. For many homeowners the retirement plan is to rent out their SF house. Prop 13 makes this so profitable that you’d be stupid not to – you can even pass the income stream on to your kids! Techie finance guru Mr. Money Mustache says to work until you can lever up to being a slumlord.
          The people getting screwed are the long time renters who have invested their lives into the city without any upside when it gets sold off.
          I suppose that more renter votes are created when a homeowner becomes an absentee landlord, perhaps there is an equilibrium there.

          1. Those longtime renters get plenty of upside from subsidized rent due to below inflation rent increases as well as often substantial one-time payouts at the end of their lease.

          2. I mean we could bequeath rent control rates to renters’ kids to level the playing field, but that rings a bit like feudalism.

            Most of the worst ideas in California law boil down to a hazing ritual for newcomers. What’s new is that it’s also become a homelessness boot camp for existing residents whose housing arrangements were tenuous.

        2. We can certainly build our way out of the fact that a median household income doesn’t buy you a home around here ($100k means you should be able to afford $800-$900k with today’s interest rates and minimal subsidy). Affordable housing will always require transfer payments, which property taxes should fund.

          1. This is actually a reasonable goal. Would that the advocacy journalists going around on podcasts and in thinly-veiled opinion pieces in our major newspapers pontificating about how ‘if we just “Build, Baby Build” the housing crisis will be solved’ and providing free publicity for deluded YIMBYs like Sonja Trauss were so honest.

          2. Indeed, but it’s very hard to imagine parcel taxes alone paying for that.

            So you’re back to the “should” of Prop 13 repeal, which seems way less realistic than what the YIMBYs are trying to do.

      2. I have the opposite take, despite SF’s extreme construction cost crisis. Move-in ready, market rate Victorian condos cost around $1000 / sq ft in SF, at least in the two bedroom range. People are already willing to spend $1000 / sq ft. They could be spending that money on new construction, increasing the total housing stock, instead of existing landholders (and thus no increase in housing stock).

  1. I was justin this area yesterday. At the little food truck / putt putt golf thingy, wahaterver it’s called. Scoping it for a kid day on a work event day. That whole gig is actually semi cool. But very formulaic food truck / social scene…blah blah a bit boring …. so a bit uninspiring but the putt putt was fun.

    The whole neighborhood is developing nicely. But it’s SUPER sterile and boring.

    IMHO some serious BmR is needed here. Like 2000 units. Because BMR units bring in individuals with different perspective, diversity, and creativity. Otherwise this whole mission bay land is just going to be a lame boring non diverse generally white corporate worker bees hive. Sf can do better.

    We need more space for the artists, and the actual workers in the cafes. And the other low income people. Those who move here with dreams but are broke. Those who don’t care about getting rich.

    Gawd I hate to see SF lose it’s creative edge in music and arts. Do we want a bunch of techie bro white peoples everywhere? That is what I see in that hood …. maybe a bit dramatic but not too far off base.

    Also was nice to see ground diggers at mission rock …. can’t wait for that to get going.

      1. “vibrant” <- The most overused term used by RE agents and developers to describe neighborhoods, etc. It is like the members only jacket of RE terminology.

    1. Too bad some have a problem with White people. Some of us are interesting. I suspect the commenter doesn’t actually personally know many “techie bro white people.”

      BmR just means some other (tax-paying) people are funding it. We’re 20 years late on SF losing its non-economic creative classes.

      One should check out Benicia or Vallejo if he/she wants to be among people who are choosing creativity over commerce. Jack Kerouac and Jerry Garcia left SF decades ago.

    2. You have no idea what you are talking about. There are only a handful of market rate condos/apartments in Mission Bay – all the rest is BMR. 40% of the housing there is BMR.

  2. Why don’t we just spend this $427,000 and buy these lucky 141 potential residents a house anywhere else in the US and then sell this city owned land on the open market to do a solid for the taxpayers in SF?

    Or heck they could have two houses free an clear in plenty of places in America and still be able to use their $25,000 a year in income to do something with?

    Why do we have to continue to waste so much money on this entitled part or that entitled part of our population in San Francisco?

    1. Because the members of the petite bourgeoisie keep opening businesses that require the employment of folks not making enough money to pay “market” prices for housing, even if S.F. did purchase 141 homes elsewhere in the country, the demand for housing would not be decreased in any meaningful way, as the 141 people (assuming that they agreed to relocate, which is not assured) would be replaced by new arrivals seeing to make more money than in the geographical and economic locale where they are currently located.

    2. But what about the addled meth addicts who defecate on the sidewalks every day? They are far better human beings than those darn techie bros. They are so CREATIVE as they nod off. And many of them are not (horrors) white,

  3. It’s not just development but endemic across the area….incredible cost to build. $430,000 per unit in this case. Would the cost per unit go down if the development was double or tripled in size?

    1. Costs would go up if it was taller or more dense. Wood frame urban podium construction is the least expensive construction out there except garden style 2-3 story slab on grade apartments which make sense in the Central Valley but not in San Francisco. There is no decreasing unit cost as you get bigger. Cost per foot goes up.

      1. 100% agree, also building higher requires more square footage allocated to stairs, elevator shafts, building columns, and garbage chutes. But of course this ignores the opportunity cost of the land. So if you build twice as high, even a 50% increase in cost per foot built will be more than offset by the ability to auction off another BMR plot of land elsewhere.

        Having said all that, I think we should double click into this construction budget, as it doesn’t make any sense. Market rate developers have been building condos all over San Francisco, selling 80% of them at $1250/foot and selling 20% to affordable housing at $250/foot, meaning that their blended gross revenue per foot is same as just the cost of construction here. Those developers had to pay for the land, didn’t get any tax breaks associated with affordable housing, and paid for sales commissions and construction loans, and still made a profit. This contractor is building efficiency studios for more money.

        1. “But of course this ignores the opportunity cost of the land. So if you build twice as high, even a 50% increase in cost per foot built will be more than offset by the ability to auction off another BMR plot of land elsewhere.” This doesn’t make sense to me. The land is effectively free to this project. You don’t amortize a free cost over a larger number of units. You just build a greater number of more expensive units on a PSF basis.

          Your second observation about the perhaps high costs of construction is spot on. I expect the answer to the question about, “Why does it cost so much?” has a lot to do with the dictated use of prevailing-wage (union) labor. In a project I budgeted recently, the costs for PW labor over market labor were roughly 60% higher. Unions are good for their members and political patrons, but make new construction more expensive. I’m not taking a side as to whether we should require union labor or not for publicly-funded projects, but there is little debate that unions make housing more costly.

  4. I looked into doing a modular wood frame building in SF last year with Factory OS, they couldn’t compete on cost, the big sales pitch from them was timing, looks like this project was sold to them on that.

    If something happens and they can’t make the schedule then you have achieved nothing, that was my take, too much of a risk to work with an unknown, I think construction will eventually go this way but for now its still in the early stages.

    We need this built along with all affordable and market rate housing that SF and the bay area can get but a question I have asked is why our politicians are ignoring the mental health crisis on the streets, this is a state emergency, our local representatives should be ashamed of themselves in ignoring this for years, now we have a public health problem.

    Housing debate is being used as complete smoke screen for the real problem, that they have neglected public policy and have left people that need help on the streets to fend for themselves.

    1. Bryan wrote: “…a question I have asked is why our politicians are ignoring the mental health crisis on the streets, this is a state emergency, our local representatives should be ashamed of themselves in ignoring this for years, now we have a public health problem…they have neglected public policy and have left people that need help on the streets to fend for themselves.”

      From the L.A. Times’ coverage of Gov. Newsom’s State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature:

      In his address, Newsom…provided a lengthy history on the causes of California’s homelessness crisis, reaching back to national “deinstitutionalization” of people with mental illnesses that began in the 1940s and cuts to essential safety net programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s…“I think our colleagues are ready,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “We feel the urgency. We feel the need every single day. That’s what I think is so good about today’s speech and that it was solely focused on housing and homelessness and the related issues — healthcare, mental health and behavioral health — because we feel it.”

      I don’t think any of our local representatives have neglected it, they are increasingly hamstrung by failed policies and court rulings ranging from the infamous Lanterman–Petris–Short Act in the 70’s up to and Martin V. City of Boise today. Everyone is aware that having the mentally ill on the street is a bad idea.

      1. Great to see Newsom speak about this issue, he should call a state of emergency, that is what it really is, hopefully its not hot air from a person that has the White House in his sights!

        I do disagree when you say that you dont think reps have not neglected it, just look around SF, they are the elected officials that should be putting the policies on the table to avoid a crisis like we are having, instead they want game the system for political gain. They are asleep at the wheel for years, they tried to hide the cities problems in the TL and now is has overflowed.

  5. I am white and have no problem at all with white people. I’m also affluent, and yes I know a lot of people across lots of industries, and in big biz and startup land. I know CEO’s as well as the guy at the coffee shop. I support all of it.

    My comment is simply about the lack of diversity, the rich vs poor that SF has become. I love capitalism as much as anyone, I just think its sad when cities become bland copy/paste worker drone complexes and the creatives, the unique mind is swept away simply because “they dont create value”

    The comment made about Jerry Garcia is exactly my point….those are the things that make SF unique, diverse, creative. Tech included, but my problem is the skewing, the lack of balance and lost opportunity to give those who don’t make too much the opportunity.

    Mission Bay is infinitely better than 20 years ago, I just am saying it is not too diverse and thats sad.

    1. “Gawd I hate to see SF lose it’s creative edge in music and arts.”

      That already happened a couple of decades ago during the .com boom. Asking rents are now far too expensive for the average struggling artist. There are some left, protected by rent control. But artist communities the world over tend to be attracted by the low rent that enables enough free time away from the day job to make art.

  6. Should cost less than half that if the city knew what they were doing. It’s like walking [up to] a car sales man and telling him that you don’t know what a car is or what it’s worth and then expecting to come to out with a deal!!

  7. Any idea what the expected lifetime is of these prefab units? Seems like a Japan model, only good for 30 years or so before becoming fill.

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