In a move that should never have taken this long, a sizable, city-owned parking lot next to the Balboa Park BART station in the Excelsior is moving forward to be developed as 80 units of 100-percent affordable, family housing. The only major question is why it's taken six years to get this project to the request-for-proposals stage when Supervisor John Avalos says he's been working on it since 2009, as the Chronicle reports.
The "neglected" 1.8-acre lot in question is known as the Upper Yard at San Jose and Geneva Avenues, currently a surface parking lot that had historically been a rail yard and junkyard for Muni buses and light-rail vehicles at one point known as a "bone yard" where decommissioned vehicles got stored for parts. And the article notes it's the only case in the city where a BART station "sits across the street from single-family homes and one-story buildings," as well as this big empty lot that could have been developed a decade or more ago.
It will now, finally, in December, go out to potential affordable housing developers with a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), with a development that is likely to be geared toward families earning 60 percent of area median income, or about $61,000 for a family of four. It's unclear how long the review and proposal process will take, but the city is now hoping that the project can break ground next year.
A lengthy community outreach process was one of the things holding up the project, it seems, with this vision document in 2012 being the result of that. What's been going on the past three years is unclear, but Avalos is now gung-ho about how this project could serve as a catalyst for more and denser, transit-oriented development in the Excelsior, both residential and retail.
The area has, up to now, been relatively ignored by developers despite being adjacent to the white-hot Mission, likely because the waves of gentrification haven't really reached it yet.
The Upper Yard project is hoping to snag a piece of the mayor's $310 million affordable housing bond, which we'll all be voting via Prop A in tomorrow's election.
And it will be one of several seeking subsidies for potential affordable housing. Other properties being considered in the neighborhood, as the Chron notes, include the old Safeway site at 355 Ocean Avenue; 65 Ocean Avenue and 915-917 Cayuga Avenue a few blocks east, where 169 total units have been proposed but where affordable housing subsidies could speed up the projects; and a site at 4840 Mission street, currently home to a funeral homes, which the non-profit developer Bridge Housing wants to use for an affordable project.