September 14, 2012

RFP For 400-Foot Tower And 580 Units At First And Folsom Released

Transbay Block 9 Massing

As we first reported last week, the Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop San Francisco's Transbay Block 9 on Folsom between First and Essex Streets was about to be released.

On Wednesday, the RFP for Transbay Block 9 was published seeking proposals for a 400-foot tower, an adjacent 85-foot podium building, and up to 580 residential units (20 percent of which must be affordable) on the 31,564-square-foot fully entitiled site.

Development proposals for Transbay Block 9 are due on December 12.

Transbay Developments: Block 9 RFP About To Make The Rounds [SocketSite]
Request for Proposals: Transbay Block 9 [sfgov.org]

First Published: September 14, 2012 8:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Why is affordable housing requirement so complicated. They mandate that this property have 20% affordable housing on site, that could mostly be in the podium but would still require some in the tower. The developer is then to decide what to pay for the land and opportunity.

1) Why not design the tower so it would fit them all. The designs are well below what the EIR would have allowed.
2) Why not sell off the tower separate and have a percentage of the sale price go towards the affordable housing. Maybe you can get more money than you need for this parcel and have extra for something else.

Currently the price is getting adjusted down by the developer for these factors. Probably more than it really needs because of the headache of bringing in the MOH and a low income builder on the joint venture.
Offering up a parcel that is entirely market rate has the best chance of getting the highest dollar. Those units could have a higher sales price, all that brings in more taxes as well.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 14, 2012 8:56 AM

Or even better yet no affordable housing requirement at all...

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 14, 2012 10:04 AM

well that is not going to happen.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 14, 2012 10:06 AM

Then neither is a simpler system, there's too many people who stand to benefit from the way it is. If change is possible, why not promote the best case?

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 14, 2012 10:14 AM

The one I brought up is worthy of a discussion, yours is a non-starter.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 14, 2012 10:21 AM

That's merely your opinion. Everybody that benefits off the current system will think the same of your proposal.

I certainly think eliminating it entirely is worthy of discussion, as do many others. In fact I personally think your suggestion is a waste of time, as what's the point if the system remains the same with only slightly different bureaucracy?

Like I said, either change is possible, or it's not. The exact change that happens will be determined by those who push it, and those who propose it, not by us on this blog.

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 14, 2012 11:26 AM

My point is that the entrenched beneficiaries of the current system get more money with a slight change to how the offer is structured and the developer doesn't need to do a joint venture. It is basically like an in-lieu fee except you pay it on the purchase.
Small change is a lot more possible than big change. Removing low income housing is a huge change.

Posted by: sparky*b at September 14, 2012 11:49 AM

From reading the RFP a joint venture does not appear to be a requirement, just presented as a possible option.

If your concern is the overall bureaucracy then I agree it should be simplified. Best would be to just throw out the RFP process entirely and simply sell the land and let the buyer develop under the usual SF development process (which itself should be drastically simplified).

I thought your concern was about the affordable housing process, thus my responses above.

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 14, 2012 12:13 PM

lyqwyd: your initial question was a textbook case of begging the question, not to mention a false dilemma. What is "the best case," and what makes any of these options qualify as such? It's not a matter of opinion the way you say it is.

Posted by: EH at September 14, 2012 4:13 PM

This is very exciting. We're seeing a whole new neighborhood being born.

The RFP process is great: it sets up competition to get the most and highest value out of these parcels. The Affordable housing requirement is a constraint like a height limit or any other. Developers factor it in to their pro-formas and make their best offers. As such, the process guarantees that it has no adverse effect on the neighborhood or the quality of the built project, since the cost comes out of the land price.

Posted by: rubber_chicken at September 14, 2012 4:20 PM

@EH

"best case" obviously referred to my initial post: no affordable housing requirements. You can disagree that this is the best case, but I don't really care, nor do I care to argue it.

Posted by: lyqwyd at September 14, 2012 7:10 PM

I think if you were to take a poll, you would find that the support for afforable housing requirements are rather weak. It all depends on how you word the poll:

A) Do you favor having fewer, more expensive market rate units in exchange for a small number of below market housing set-asides disbursed via a lottery, OR

B) Do you favor having more, less expensive market rate housing but without a below market requirement?

I suspect the city as a whole is smarter than the BoS.

Posted by: Robert at September 15, 2012 1:46 PM

Does anyone have experience living in a building with affordable housing? Would the Hoa be shared in these transbay parcels. As a market rate buyer, I'd be hesitant to be involved with an Hoa where 20% are affordable housing.

Posted by: EY at September 15, 2012 3:53 PM

EY:

BMR residents do pay HOA. My understanding is it is not discounted.

Posted by: HW at September 16, 2012 10:40 AM

This affordable housing requirement will limit the value of the market portion. I believe developers on the other side of Folsom (Rincon Hill) have the option of building the affordable portion offsite. Can you imagine if ORH or Infinity had about a 100 or so affordable units?

Posted by: Ivan at September 17, 2012 8:55 AM

Arguing about the affordable housing requirement is just pointless; my understanding is that the requirement was imposed by the state. See the above-linked document, subsection C. TRANSBAY ENFORCEABLE OBLIGATIONS:

The Transbay project also has the obligation imposed by State law to ensure that 35 percent of all housing produced in the Project Area is affordable to low or moderate income households, California Public Resource Code § 5027.1.

If you can't make a transit-focused neighborhood accessible to working class families that are going to use mass transit, then you shouldn't try to do it anywhere, and as best I can recall, that was the rationale for the state making this part of the deal.

I don't know about this parcel in particular (sparky's suggestion about setting aside a parcel that is entirely market rate is apt), but in general the majority of the property for the transbay project in general was state property that was transferred to the city to develop in the way that the state legislature had a significant say in.

And when you take the King's shilling, you do the King's bidding, as they used to say in medieval England.

Of course, it's not literally so in this case, those market fundamentalists who think that the affordable housing requirement is a grievous sin against the god of the free market can always lobby their state senator and get them to carry legislation changing the law.

Or they can get a libertarian elected and have that person carry legislation to change the law once in office. Good luck with that in The third state senate district.

Robert: I suspect the city as a whole is smart enough to see through a poll conducted with that wording. I think most voters who are paying attention would understand that the more accurate wording would be:

C.) Do you favor having more, unaffordable market rate housing so that real property developers can make higher profits by not having to meet a below market requirement?

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 17, 2012 11:26 AM

Posted by: SocketSite at February 15, 2013 10:42 AM

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