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An Update On The Octavia Boulevard Project

Rendering via Macy Architecture
By Rose Garrett - Published on August 29, 2014.
Last night, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association held their monthly meeting, and the agenda centered on an update on the implementation of the Octavia Boulevard Project
Presenting on the subject were Ken Rich and Casey Noel of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), and the pair gave a rundown on the status of the 22 land parcels being managed and developed. 

To get oriented, take a look at the map below, courtesy of the OEWD. It shows the locations and alphabetical names of all the parcels in question, which were created when the Central Freeway was removed from the neighborhood. 

Of the parcels below, A, C, G and Q represent completed affordable housing, and K, O and U represent future affordable housing projects. Parcels B, D, F, H, I, J, P and V  represent land already purchased from the city for the development of market rate housing, while L, M, N, R, S and T represent future market rate housing developments. 



Rich and Noel announced that, once all the parcels are sold and projects are completed, the city will have created almost 50% affordable housing out of the 1,000 or so housing units that will have been created. Rich told us that this represents the number of real, physical units that will be created, and does not include buildings whose developers have chosen to "fee out" and pay the city's monetary penalty in lieu of creating affordable units. 

The most recent set of parcels in question are Parcels T, R and S, three pieces of land which are being sold without the "fee out" option. As we reported earlier, Parcel T is set to become a mixed-use building, 15% of which will be affordable units.

Parcels R and S represent the land most recently occupied by Hayes Valley’s Growing Home Community Garden, an interim project which closed amid some degree of outcry earlier this summer. As previously reported, the two parcels on either side of Lily Street had been designed to become two narrow buildings, one with 34 174-square-foot "micro units," the other with 22 units of slightly larger studios and 2-bedrooms (see a rendering of those two buildings at the top of the page). 

Are you still reading? Good, because we've got news about those teensy micro units, coming up right after a short explanation of how these affordable housing requirements work. 

Basically, under the Market Octavia Plan, developers are under obligation to include a percentage (at least 12%) of affordable housing units with their projects, either as onsite housing (in the development itself) or offsite housing (somewhere else, usually within a mile radius). The third option is to "fee out" and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit into a city fund. 

This brings us, improbably, to a project that's been mired in city reviews so long many may have forgotten about it. We're talking about the proposed 400-foot residential tower at the northwest corner of Market and Van Ness, which is being designed by architect Richard Meier. It seems that Build Inc., the developer attached to the Parcels R and S project, has newly become the project sponsor for the tower project. 

What does that have to do with Octavia? Turns out, the developer has decided that to fulfill the inclusionary housing obligation of the high-rise tower, it will instead turn the buildings planned for Parcels R and S into affordable housing, which would mean, among other things, that the micro unit concept is out of the picture due to the fact that inclusionary affordable housing units must generally match up to the project that generated the obligation. In short, since the market rate tower units won't be microscopic, the Octavia units can't, either. 

Rich tells us that the design is still being sorted out, but that Build Inc. can be expected to stick to the exterior look and feel of the buildings, even though the interior design will change. 

Phew! That's it for your in-depth update on the ins and outs of The Octavia Project's many developments, all sourced directly from last night's extremely informative HVNA meeting. As a reminder, the monthly meetings are open to all, so if you want more of this kind of news, we recommend  you stop in. 

We'll be sure to keep you posted as we learn more about what's next. 
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