Board trying to wring public benefits from 8 Washington project 

click to enlarge Controversy: A proposed 134-unit waterfront condominium development has been criticized for its lack of affordable housing and displacement of sports facilities. - COURTESY RENDERING
  • COURTESY RENDERING
  • Controversy: A proposed 134-unit waterfront condominium development has been criticized for its lack of affordable housing and displacement of sports facilities.

Despite unresolved issues, the politically charged waterfront development at 8 Washington St. moved closer to reality Wednesday and is poised for approval next week.

The 134-unit luxury condo development has ignited a divisive political debate and angered members of the private Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club, which it would replace. The project would eliminate the facility’s tennis courts but replace an existing pool. Labor unions have rallied behind the project’s expected construction jobs, but progressives say The City needs affordable housing, not multimillion-dollar condos.

Like other significant developments in San Francisco, the project’s approval process includes a debate about how many so-called public benefits developer Simon Snellgrove of Pacific Waterfront Partners would have to pay for beyond the mandatory fees for items such as affordable housing.

City officials disagree about the exact value of those benefits, which the developer pledged to make in several documents it has submitted for city approval. San Francisco’s port staff valued them at $144.6 million, while Board of Supervisors Budget Analyst Harvey Rose projected $84.4 million. More clarity is expected by next week’s vote.

Both estimates include about $11 million in affordable-housing fees, which is $2 million higher than the fee The City mandates for its public housing fund to help build affordable housing.

During Wednesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, Supervisor Jane Kim sought a number of concessions from the developer, which would help ensure the project’s passage next week.

Among them were a reduction in the number of proposed underground parking spaces from 255 to 200, a parking surcharge of 50 cents per use to pay for streetscape improvements within a one-mile radius and a partnership with The City to ensure youths have access to the swimming pool. There are currently 1,400 youths on the Recreation and Park Department’s swim lesson wait list.

Kim said with an agreement on those issues, she would support the project.

“I would not characterize this deal as generous,” Kim said of the overall development, if modified to include her demands.

But not everyone is sold on the deal. Supervisor John Avalos had unsuccessfully sought to postpone the committee’s vote. He said the development should include city fees “well above mandatory” given that overall revenue estimates he has seen for the project say it could exceed $400 million.

The full board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the development, which includes a height increase, a special tax district and a land swap.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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