San Francisco city officials on Thursday celebrated the start of construction on a project in the city's South of Market area that would result in 856 new homes.
The 5M mixed-use development near Mary and Mission streets, would also create a 640,000 square feet space for offices, in addition to adding parks, rooftop gardens and play areas for children.
The project at the four-acre site, which currently consists of empty parking lots and buildings, is being built through a partnership between media giant Hearst Corporation and Brookfield Properties.
The project was first approved by city supervisors back in 2015, with former area Supervisor Jane Kim leading the effort.
"There were a lot of delays, but delays don't mean denials. This project is going to be done," said Mayor London Breed during the groundbreaking celebration.
"This is not the kind of project that should be delayed. This is the kind of project that we need in communities all over San Francisco. Because we know that we have challenges with affordable housing. And we know that sometimes when we have the financial resources to get things done; our bureaucracy sometimes gets in the way. We need to change that. Because the people who need this housing the most, they're counting on us to make better decisions, they're counting on us to get these projects done," she said.
According to Breed, of the more than 800 units to be constructed at the site, 245 of them will be affordably priced and offered to seniors and formerly homeless families.
"It has really been a long journey to get where we are today," Kim said, adding that she first met with developers in 2011, years before the proposal went to the Board of Supervisors.
"It's important as we build multiple arrays of housing, that we include those that are struggling, but working to live in the city and that's why I'm so proud of this project," she said.
The first phase of construction will involve building a 302-unit apartment building, containing 91 affordable apartments and a 640,000 square feet office building at 415 Natoma St., which would also have space for retail and food establishments.
Additionally, the first phase will also see the construction of parks, play areas and open space.
Two historic buildings at the site, the Dempster building and the Camelline building, will also be repurposed for the project, according to officials with Brookfield Properties.
That first phase could be completed as early as mid 2021.
A projected completion date for the project's second phase has not yet been set.
Because Hearst owns part of the property, Hearst has retained ownership rights for the planned construction of a 400-unit condominium building at the site. The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, which Hearst owns, will continue to operate at the building adjacent to the site.
According to city officials, the development, which is located in the city's SOMA Pilipinas - Filipino Cultural Heritage District, will also provide $76 million in community benefits to the area, which will be paid for by Brookfield and Hearst.