No. 50, September 2005
Oakland for-profit buys the Y
A.F. Evans plans 5 stories
of affordable housing
by Marjorie Beggs
The Tenderloin Futures Collaborative
had to wait until the penultimate item for the hottest issue
on its August agenda: Central YMCA Executive Director Carmela
of who bought the Y.
She said the new owner of the 95-year-old
building and two adjacent vacant lots is A.F. Evans, the
Oakland-based for-profit that has been developing affordable
housing in the Tenderloin for 20 years. The purchase agreement
was signed Aug. 9, but it won’t be complete until next
August, giving the Y time to move.
The sale frees the Y to start down the
trail of constructing new facilities at Golden Gate and Larkin,
a site it will share with Hastings College of the Law’s
controversial seven-story garage and commercial space.
hoping to retain some Y facilities.”
– Craig Adelman
A.F. Evans Director for Affordable Housing
“We’re tremendously excited — this is a
new era for us,” Gold said. “We’ve put out
an RFQ for architects for our new site, and we’re also
looking for a transition site during construction — 10,000
to 15,000 square feet for about three years.”
Gold introduced Craig Adelman, well-known
to many as TNDC’s
former director for affordable housing. Now in the same slot
with A.F. Evans, he’ll be overseeing the Y renovation.
“We recognize the Y building as a real resource
in the neighborhood, one that sits on an important corner,” he
said, adding that the building will mix housing with commercial
and community spaces.
“We’re hoping to retain some of the Y facilities,
but we’re not sure which. We do know the gym will have
to go. We don’t know yet about the pool.”
On the two parking lots, at 351 Turk and 145 Leavenworth,
A.F. Evans plans to construct new market-rate condominiums,
The Extra called A.F. Evans a few weeks later to get more
details. We asked President Jack Robertson what drew his firm
to the Y project.
“We’re pretty deep into the neighborhood,
always looking for more to do that will increase the housing
stock,” Robertson said. “We have six other residential
projects that we’ve done in the Tenderloin and one more,
at Hyde and Eddy, just under way. Also, this seemed like a
fascinating opportunity to add a property to our portfolio
that has unique historical value.”
A.F. Evans has built 726 apartments, studios and SRO units
in the TL since 1985, Robertson said, and 95% are affordable.
Citywide, it has built 1,530 units, and throughout California,
Nevada and Washington 7,600 units.
Five or more of the Y’s nine stories
will be housing, he said, 175 to 200 SRO units, studios and
one-bedroom apartments, all affordable.
“The lower floors will be commercial and community spaces,” Robertson
said. “There’s a great theater space that we’d
love to get back into action, the atrium would be a good spot
for a restaurant, and restoring the grand staircase is an option.
We have a historic consultant on board to help with those ideas.”
He said that A.F. Evans is “not prepared enough to release
any information” on the projected cost of the renovation.
Plans for the condos are even vaguer.
Robertson said they’d
be “mid-rise,” below the TL’s 80-foot height
limit, and “moderately-priced.”
The sale of the condos will make the
Y rehab feasible, he said. Other sources of funding are the
city and tax credits — especially
the 30-year-old federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives
Program, administered by the IRS, National Park Service and
State Historic Preservation Offices, which gives property owners
a 20% tax credit for rehabbing income-producing buildings with
A potential source of funds “for the nonrental portion
of this project,” Robertson said, is the U.S. Treasury
Department’s five-year-old New Markets Tax Credits Program.
It allows investors in low-income neighborhoods to claim a
credit against federal income taxes — 39% of the cost
of the investment spread out over seven years. For the first
three years, the investor gets a 5% credit against the purchase
price; for the next four years, the credit drops to 6% a year.
It appears that over time, at least, A.F. Evans can recoup
59% of its costs for the two Y projects.
And the timeline?
A.F. Evans has a one-year contract period
with the Y, which means the purchase won’t be completed
until August 2006. Meanwhile, it will get together its funding,
building permits, EIRs and design approval.
The earliest construction and renovation could start would
be the end of 2006, Robertson said.
For Folks who want answers
Heidi Seick of the mayor’s office told the TFC that
San Francisco’s 140 city agencies and departments get
eight million calls a year from people with all manner of questions.
To give better service, she’s been working six years
on a 311 system — a toll-free, nonemergency, 24/7, multilingual,
live-person response system.
“My vision of it,” she said, “is an absolute
transformation in how the city provides services. Right now,
40% of the new concerns people call about are never addressed,
and that’s unacceptable.”
A 311 caller would get a tracking number
for followup; e-mail, Internet and fax all will be part of
the system. Ultimately, Seick said, 311 will expose what’s
not working in the city and, as important, will take the
pressure off the burdened 911 system. Baltimore, Chicago
and New York all have 311 systems in place. Trials are set
to start here next spring with the full launch in the summer.
Meantime, The Extra tried to call Seick
to find out what the 311 system might cost. We got a message:
She was on vacation for a week and wasn’t picking up
her messages; she left no contact names in her absence. And
there was no tracking number.