BRIDGE, Mission Housing Open San Francisco Affordable Community

The 157-unit property is the area’s largest permanent affordable development.
La Fenix at 1950. Image by Julio Lara, courtesy of Mission Housing Development Corp.

BRIDGE Housing and Mission Housing Development Corp. have officially opened La Fénix at 1950, a 157-unit affordable housing community in San Francisco’s Mission District.

David Baker Architects and Cervantes Design Associates provided architecture services and Swinerton Builders served as general contractor for the $115 million project.

The developers broke ground on La Fénix in January 2019, financing the construction with a $56.3 million loan from Wells Fargo Bank, according to Yardi Matrix information. The building topped out a year later, to become the area’s largest permanent affordable development.

Located at 1950 Mission St. on a former San Francisco Unified School District site, the community consists of two buildings of nine and five floors, respectively, connected by an internal courtyard and an open-air bridge at levels two through five. The unit mix features studios and one- to three-bedroom floorplans ranging from 340 to 980 square feet, as well as 8,300 square feet of ground-floor retail, Yardi Matrix shows.

All units cater to households earning between 45 and 60 percent of AMI. Of the total, 40 apartments are reserved to formerly homeless families. In addition, 25 percent of units are set aside for residents of the surrounding neighborhood, per the city’s “neighborhood preference” program.

Amenities include a rooftop playground and a community room with kitchen and laundry room, as well as landscaped courtyards. Neighborhood-serving spaces feature a child-care center, art studios and a gallery, as well as a bicycle repair shop.

The community is less than 1 mile south of downtown San Francisco, a few steps from BART’s 16th St. Mission station, in a dense shopping and dining area. There are two other affordable communities on the same street: the 83-unit 1036 Mission St. and a 137-unit property at 4840 Mission St.

A useful repurposing

The 1950 Mission site once housed Phoenix Continuation High School, a San Francisco Unified School District facility with temporary classroom buildings and surface parking. In 2007, the SFUSD Board of Education designated the site as surplus property. The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development acquired it in 2014 with affordable housing in mind.

Following the purchase, the site was initially used as the City’s first interim-use navigation center to serve homeless individuals. In 2015, MOHCD selected Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing to develop, own and operate a permanent affordable community at the location.

Financial partners

Aside from the Wells Fargo loan, another substantial financial contribution came from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, which provided a $45 million investment. Financial partners also included BNY Mellon, California Community Reinvestment Corp., California Tax Credit Allocation Committee, California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Another participant was the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which awarded $15 million to the project. The program is administered in partnership with the California Department of Housing and Community Development and funded by California Climate Investments.