Housing Units on Lower Great Highway at Rivera Undergoing Major Renovation

By Thomas K. Pendergast

For those wondering what is going on behind the curtains at the construction site on the Lower Great Highway, near Rivera Street, there are 16 public housing, or “affordable housing” town homes, being completely rehabilitated.

This renovation includes 10 town homes in the north building and another six in the south building, with all windows and doors replaced, new roofing, new exterior finishes, new fixtures and new appliances. 

Both buildings are two-story and together they sit on a 15,900 square-foot lot.  

Construction is underway on housing units on the Lower Great Highway at Rivera Street. Photo by Thomas K. Pendergast.

The buildings are part of the City’s “Scattered Sites Rehab Project” which is a program sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) on land owned by the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA). The overall project’s goal is to rehabilitate five public housing sites located in four neighborhoods: including the Ingleside, Castro and Fillmore areas. There is another public housing site in the Sunset District at 4101 Noriega St.

The housing rehab project on the Lower Great Highway is being facilitated by the Mission Housing Development Corporation (MHDC), which is acting as authorized agents of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) and the SF Department of Building Inspection (DBI).

These five sites were originally developed between 1900 and 1970, according to City documents, and were acquired by the SFHA in the 1970s. Over time, the developments have “severely deteriorated and need substantial rehabilitation,” the documents say. 

“The MHDC’s proposed scope of work will focus on health and life safety improvements, including replacement of exterior siding, roofing and water heaters; extensive dry rot repairs; seismic upgrades; replacement of exterior walkways, balconies and stairways; electric and plumbing upgrades; hazardous material abatement; and accessibility improvements.”

According to its website, the MHDC is a nonprofit, community-based organization “which creates and preserves high-quality affordable housing for residents of low and moderate incomes in the Mission District and San Francisco.” 

The organization provides housing for families, seniors and individuals with special needs, as well as technical assistance to help other organizations develop affordable housing that meets the needs of the physically or mentally challenged and the critically ill.

The relocation of all of the households’ residents was required. The MDHC development budget assumes $43,000 per household in relocation expenses.

The sponsor started preliminary outreach to residents in January of 2021, holding meetings online for each of the properties as well as one-on-one interviews with households to better understand household composition, special needs and specific concerns around relocation.  

The relocation plan was approved by the SFHA Commission on April 22, 2021.

The MDHC expects the longest relocation duration to be 11 months. Most or all households will be relocated to master-leased apartment units, with expenses to be paid by the project. Relocation will follow the MOHCD guidelines for relocation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and relocation assistance will be provided in compliance with all laws. 

For the entire project at all five locations, the overall total cost for everything is estimated at $81.4 million, which breaks down to $1.8 million per unit, or $1,125 per square foot, or $535,820 per bedroom.  

Since its first acquisition in 1971, the MDHC has grown to be one of the largest nonprofit housing organizations in San Francisco, owning or managing 35 buildings, while serving about 3,000 residents in 1,600 units. 

Of the 16 townhomes at the Great Highway location, 10 are three-bedrooms and the other six are two bedrooms. There are three covered carports providing 16 off-street parking spaces and each unit has a private patio area. The scope of work includes extensive replacement of the exterior facade, window and door replacement throughout, mold and water intrusion mitigation, steel stair replacement, new plumbing and electrical throughout, and a large amount of framing replacement due to the water intrusion issues. 

The cost estimates for the Lower Great Highway site totals $11.3 million, which breaks down to $706,625 per unit, or $739 per square foot, or $269,191 per bedroom. 

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