Rebuild Potrero Creeps Forward, But Financing Remains a Challenge
In August, development consultant Charmaine Curtis shared Bridge Housing’s latest proposals for the Rebuild Potrero project at the Potrero Boosters’ regular meeting. We’re “hoping to rebuild people’s lives” as well the housing stock, Curtis said.
The need for rebuilt lives seems clear. According to Emily Weinstein, Bridge Housing’s community development director, Potrero Annex-Terrace residents’ median annual household income is $14,000, an amount that includes public benefits, such as social security. That compares with median household incomes of $130,000 on the Hill’s north slope. Annex-Terrace’s poverty rate is roughly 65 percent, as opposed to the north slope’s five percent rate. And violent crime in the Annex-Terrace complexes is five times the citywide average.
Less than 60 percent of students living in the Annex-Terrace complexes graduate from high school, Weinstein reported, compared with 86 percent of students residing on the north slope. Less than one-third of the upwards of 100 three- and four-year olds living in Annex-Terrace attend preschool; elementary school children have high truancy levels.
In the face of these stark statistics, Weinstein was pleased to report significant participation of Annex-Terrace residents’ in Rebuild Potrero’s community building activities. “Our participation is through the roof,” Weinstein said, pointing to the Zumba classes, walking club, garden workdays and a host of other activities available to Annex-Terrace residents. Forty to 45 people turn out for Zumba each Monday and Wednesday.
The community-building process has involved a variety of initiatives, including neighborhood “visioning sessions,” as well as resident and community get-togethers. A two-year, $300,000 U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant is supporting Bridge Housing’s efforts to create a strategy to delivery social service programs focused in five areas: education, economic security, health, technology and public safety. The grant funds are being used to develop the PARADISE Plan, Weinstein said, an acronym for practical and realistic and desirable ideas for the social environment. Bridge Housing has established an advisory committee of community members to oversee grant work, and has completed a needs assessment of 53 percent of Annex-Terrace households. Next steps include analyzing the data, sharing the findings, and developing a master plan for social change, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
The latest changes to the project’s physical features include reducing the total number of housing units, from 1,700 to 1,600 units. Parking ratios will increase from 0.5 spaces per unit to 0.6 spaces per unit. Block Q, which had been sandwiched between Missouri Street and the Potrero Hill Playground, will be eliminated. Instead, Bridge will straighten the street between 22nd and 23rd streets. More housing — most likely for seniors — will be added to Block G, along 24th Street. Building heights will be lowered throughout the project, in Blocks A, B, F, K, and L. Connecticut Street will be closed to traffic, with a new one-half acre open space at Connecticut and 25th streets.
Curtis said the process of obtaining entitlements for the project is coming to an end. Bridge Housing hopes to publish a second draft of a joint environmental impact report — environmental impact statement by early 2014, with a goal of EIR/EIS certification by July 2014. “It’s been a long road,” Curtis said. “It’s coming to an end.”
Concurrently, Bridge Housing is negotiating a master development agreement with the City and County of San Francisco for disposition of the property. When construction starts, which won’t be until at least 2016, the City will turn over property management to Bridge Housing. Until then, Annex-Terrace is being managed by the San Francisco Housing Authority.
Efforts to secure financing the project are ongoing. The developer will apply next year for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant, a HUD grant which would help pay for new housing units, infrastructure, community development, and community facilities. Art May, principal, Keystone Development Group, a partner with Bridge Housing, said it will cost upwards of $90 million to replace the infrastructure at Annex-Terrace. Total project costs, without considering inflation, will be slightly less than $1 billion. According to May, so far $5 million has been raised.
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