San Francisco Public Housing Site Undergoes Transformation

Source: Affordable Housing Finance

By Christine Serline | August 15, 2017 

The first two phases of the revitalized Alice Griffith public housing complex in San Francisco features 184 affordable apartment, with 114 units reserved for returning residents.

The first two phases of the revitalized Alice Griffith public housing complex in San Francisco features 184 affordable apartment, with 114 units reserved for returning residents.

The transformation of the obsolete Alice Griffith public housing site, which had been dilapidated and plagued with crime, in San Francisco has been night and day.

Known as the Double Rock, the public housing community near Candlestick Park had been isolated from the rest of the city. Now the area is undergoing a major revitalization.

The renewal of Alice Griffith is part of master developer FivePoint Communities’ larger Hunters Point Shipyard Phase 2 and Candlestick Point development plan, which includes 10,500 new homes, with 32% available for rent or sale at below-market rates.

The flat-style and townhouse apartments wrap around center courtyards to provide private outdoor space and are built over at-grade parking structures. All phases have a certification goal of LEED Gold.Blake Thompson PhotographyThe flat-style and townhouse apartments wrap around center courtyards to provide private outdoor space and are built over at-grade parking structures. All phases have a certification goal of LEED Gold.

Led by the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, in partnership with St. Louis–based developer McCormack Baron Salazar (MBS), the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., and Tabernacle Community Development Corp., the first two phases of the Alice Griffith redevelopment includes 184 units of mixed-income housing, including 114 units for returning Alice Griffith residents.

“We started the initial phases on vacant land that is immediately adjacent to Alice Griffith. Right now, you see the before and after right next to each other,” says Yusef Freeman, managing director, new business, for MBS. “It’s a huge contrast. It’s a really nice place with upped amenities for the residents, particularly compared with the original Alice Griffith.”

Lease-up is expected to be completed by September for the final units of the first two phases, which are comprised of flat-style and townhouse apartments that wrap around courtyards with private outdoor space. Amenities include supportive services spaces throughout the development, a health and fitness center, a lounge that has a kitchen and a big-screen TV with a café atmosphere, barbecue areas, and play equipment.

Another 140 units will come online by the end of the year, with a fourth phase to start construction this month.

Alice Griffith is part of the HOPE SF initiative to transform the city’s most distressed public housing sites into mixed-income communities and to ensure one-for-one replacement of the public housing units. The site also benefits from a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative implementation grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The $118.7 million first and second phases include a construction loan from JPMorgan Chase, a permanent loan from California Community Reinvestment Corp., and low-income housing tax credit equity through RBC Capital Markets—Tax Credit Equity Group. Additional financing included loans from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, and The Shipyard Communities as part of the master developer agreement.

The public housing replacement units have Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program or traditional project-based voucher subsidies.

“This was the first Choice Neighborhoods/RAD deal ever done in the country,” says Freeman. “There was a lot of negotiation and document creation down to the wire just before closing to get HUD as well as the lenders and investors comfortable with the structure.”

The development team also took a holistic approach to the site’s transformation. It is part of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point LEED for Neighborhood Development certified plan. All of the phases are registered with the LEED for Homes Multifamily Midrise program with a goal of gold certification.

“What we tried to do for selecting green features was to be aware of costs and to be cost effective in what we were choosing to do,” says Cady Seabaugh, vice president of communications and sustainability at MBS. “Doing the LEED for Homes Multifamily Midrise allowed us to create energy-efficient envelopes, appliances, and lighting. This helps our residents save more of their utility allowance and gives them more discretionary funds to become more stable.”

The first two phases are 24% more energy efficient than what is required under California’s Title 24. The smoke-free buildings include highly efficient lighting, programmable thermostats, and hard-surface flooring. Durable materials were installed near sinks to prevent mold and other allergens, and low-VOC compounds were used to reduce indoor toxins.

In addition, a highly reflective roof reduces the heat-island effect, and drought-resistant xeriscaping and limited turf plus a highly efficient irrigation system helps to manage water use.

Secured and covered bike storage, shared vehicles, and limited parking also help to encourage alternate transportation.

“The green features were really designed thinking of the residents’ quality of life and what would improve residents’ well-being,” adds Seabaugh.