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Developers fetch up to 1,000 units in Dogpatch
Posted On: Sep 06, 2012

Development in the Dogpatch is going into overdrive.

Avant Housing is in contract to buy a large development site in the San Francisco neighborhood south of Mission Bay, the latest in a series of projects that could inject 1,000 new housing units into the neighborhood.

Avant has agreed to pay about $18.6 million, or $62,000 per buildable unit, to buy a 67,000-square-foot parcel at 1201 Tennessee St. according to market sources. The land is currently home to a gas station, multiple tilt-up warehouses and a Chinese restaurant. If approved, Avant would build 300 units on the property.

“What we gravitate to in all of San Francisco is that eclectic diversity you find in some neighborhoods: Victorians, warehouses and mixed-uses. Tennessee Street has that vibrancy,” said Eric Tao, a development principal with Avant, which is backed by California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Tao compared the site to 1880 Mission St. and 900 Folsom St., where Avant is building a combined 475 units. (The 900 Folsom St. project is being built by Avant for Essex Property Trust, which purchased it as construction was starting.)

The Tennessee Street development comes as two large-scale Dogpatch projects are in the early stages of the approvals process. Kaiser Permanente is in contract to acquire a piece of land along 16th and 17th streets, just southwest of Mission Bay. It plans to build a roughly 200,000-square-foot medical office building there as part of a mixed-use development. In addition to the medical office building, Walden Development, which owns the land, is seeking approval for 200 units of housing.

At 2121 Third St., Costa Mesa-based Mission Piers Development LLC is about to start demolition to clear a site for a 105-apartment project. Nearby at 800 Illinois St., the San Francisco Opera is in contract to sell its sprawling set-construction warehouse to apartment giant Archstone for approximately $26 million. Archstone has filed a preliminary application to build 350 units on the property. Archstone is working on the entitlements with Build Inc., the group that built the pioneering Dogpatch project, the Homes on Esprit Park, a block north.

The project that is furthest along, the $80.4 million, 196-unit Potrero Launch, is set to open in early fall at 2235 Third St.

The Tennessee Street project design will be somewhat of a balancing act. The eastern portion of the property fronts the busy, mixed-use Third Street, with its mix of industrial, brick office and new housing; the remainder will line a street of classic Dogpatch Victorians.

Avant has not yet picked an architect, but is working with Dogpatch-based designer Lundberg Design on some early conceptual schemes. “We are looking for an architect who has history in San Francisco and understands the neighborhoods,” said Tao. “It’s going to be challenging because we want something that will resonate with Tennessee Street and still resonate with Third Street.”

Dogpatch Neighborhood Association President Janet Carpinelli said the wave of development threatens to destroy the very thing that makes the area so appealing to residential builders. New residents will create a need for more parks, schools and public transit — none of which are planned for in the near future.

“Projects are coming fast and furious, and the planning department has to get a handle on it,” she said. “We are looking for development that doesn’t overwhelm the neighborhood. If we are surrounded by huge development, it’s going to look like SoMa and Mission Bay.”

Add to the Dogpatch projects nearby plans for about 1,000 units in and around Showplace Square and the result will be even more pronounced, according to Tony Kelly of the Potrero Hill Boosters.

“Just the projects that have come before the neighborhood organization would increase the population of the 94107 ZIP code by 50 percent,” said Kelly. “It’s the cumulative impact of the whole thing. You are either scratching your head or shaking your fist about how we are going to handle all of this.”

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