San Fran Board of Supervisors Helps Mixed-Use Project Clear Last Hurdle

San Francisco--Plans for 900 Folsom, a 450-unit mixed-use residential development..

San Francisco–Plans for 900 Folsom, a 450-unit mixed-use residential development in San Francisco, have taken a big step forward. Developer AGI Capital had been hindered by two community groups’ appeal of the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR), but now the company has just gotten the green light from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which rejected the appeal and voted without a single opposing member to uphold the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the approximately $200 million project.

Located in San Francisco’s bustling Yerba Buena Arts and Shopping District, 900 Folsom will consist of one 179-unit building and one 269-unit building, and will also feature an aggregate 12,000 square feet of ground-level retail and flex space, as well as 323 parking spaces and a public park. Currently, due to the lackluster condominium market, the project is being underwritten as an apartment community, but if there is a sea change in the market, the residences may be sold as condos.

AGI Capital is developing 900 Folsom in conjunction with TMG Partners, and has also secured some financial assistance from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System through its Emerging Partners Program, which supports green, transit-oriented developments in infill locations. AGI Partners’ project fits the bill, as 900 Folsom is being designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Green or no, the EIR appeal still came to the fore. “We had lots of people and letters supporting us, and we still ran into opposition,” Eric Tao, principal of AGI Capital, tells MHN. “But any place where there are extreme supply constraints–in San Francisco, it’s land–it is difficult to get the approval of everyone involved, and San Francisco’s citizens are very involved and very engaged.”

But AGI is very involved and very engaged, too. “We are a small, local developer, so we have multiple years of involvement in the community,” Tao notes. “We worked for three years on this project, educating ourselves, educating everyone.” ¬†AGI attended every community meeting, starting out with the most basic of parameters–property lines and building heights. “For us, it’s about the ‘3 Cs’ of development: community, city and capital. We hear what the community wants and we work from there.” So, when the two community groups presented a roadblock pertaining to the environmental report, AGI addressed the issue with a personal touch. “Historically, community groups have always asked for something, and in this case they wanted community space,” he says. “We said that if we reach a certain threshold of value per-square-foot during the marketing phase, then they can have the community space for free. That got us over the hump.”

With the Board of Supervisors’ final approval in hand, AGI can move on to the next step in the development of 900 Folsom. “We have to sit down at the table with our contractors and partners and really sharpen the estimate, and at the same time, we’ll be going back and fourth with lenders. The process will probably take 12 months.”