Mayor London Breed Announces Start of Construction on Plumbers Union Housing Project
Hundreds of new homes, including supportive housing, a new union hall, and public open space will transform underused parking lots and restore the historic Civic Center Hotel while providing crucial jobs
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced that construction has begun on the Plumbers Union mixed-use project, which will transform a crucial stretch of Market Street by adding 580 new homes, including 96 supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness, as well as a new union hall and public open space. The project is also expected to provide about 1,800 jobs, highlighting the economic benefits of housing production as the economy struggles to recover from the pandemic.
“This milestone is a reminder that we cannot let today’s economic challenges create tomorrow’s housing affordability crisis,” said Mayor Breed. “The Plumbers Union project helps us meet two of our most critical needs – housing and jobs. Starting construction of this major project during a time of great economic uncertainty supports residents struggling to keep a roof over their heads and earn a living wage. I want to recognize Local 38 for seeing the potential of this property and working with a development partner to turn their vision into reality.”
Approved in December 2017, the Plumbers Union project encompasses six buildings – five residences and a new union hall – across 2.2 acres fronting Market Street and bordered by 12th, Brady, and Colton Streets. New open spaces will include the Joseph P. Mazzola Gardens, a plaza, and mid-block passages, while restored historic façades along Market Street will anchor the 13,000 square feet of retail space. The privately-funded project is being developed by Strada Investment Group in partnership with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 38 and its Pension Fund.
“UA Local 38 is extremely proud to have broken ground on such a substantial project that will not only give our membership a new Union Hall and headquarters, but will provide badly needed housing,” said Larry Mazzola, Jr., President of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and Business Manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 38. “This was my grandfather Joe Mazzola’s dream when he purchased all of this property as Chairman of the Board of Trustees back in the 1960s for the Local 38 Pension Fund. Having a construction job of this magnitude start during this pandemic and downturn is an enormous lift to Building Trades workers. The jobs provided will help offset the unemployment numbers in all trades, and will give hope to workers for the future.”
“This project demonstrates the breadth of public benefits that can be created through private investment and without taxing limited City resources when the City, Labor and the private and non-profit sectors work together as partners,” said Michael Cohen, Co-founder and Principal of Strada Investment Group. “These benefits include desperately needed housing, good union jobs, supportive homeless housing and a major new park. The fact that we were able to secure the funding necessary to commence construction in the midst of the pandemic is a testament to the fundamental soundness of the project and that partnership.”
The Plumbers Union project will deliver 580 units of housing across five residential buildings. The first two projects are the 190-unit Building A on Market Street at Brady Street, and 53 Colton Street, a 96-unit supportive housing project for formerly homeless individuals. The project at 53 Colton is a 50/50 joint venture between Strada and Community Housing Partnership (CHP), a nonprofit that currently operates the Civic Center Hotel Navigation Center. The renovation of the Civic Center Hotel will take place after 53 Colton opens. The Plumbers Union project also worked with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to preserve 101 affordable housing units at the South Beach Marina Apartments that would have seen their affordability expire.
“We are proud to partner with Strada in the development of 96 permanent homeless supportive housing apartments at 53 Colton as a core part of the overall project,” said Rick Aubry, Chief Executive Officer of Community Housing Partnership. “CHP is celebrating its 30th anniversary and now, more than ever, adding new supported homes for people who have experienced homelessness is essential for the City we all love. We currently provide a home for over 1,900 residents our across the City and the new housing at Colton and other projects under development in partnership with the City will expand our capacity to address the challenge.”
The start of construction on the Plumbers Union also serves as a reminder of the importance of housing production to job creation. During the Great Recession, housing production, which had already failed to meet housing demand for decades, fell from a high of 3,366 units in 2009 to an anemic 418 units in 2011. Construction jobs also plummeted, dropping by more than a third between a peak in 2007 and a low point in 2010, according to State of California data for the San Francisco/San Mateo area. The robust economic recovery from the Great Recession, coupled with the significant underproduction of housing, led to skyrocketing housing costs. In 2019 San Francisco saw an increase of more than 4,850 housing units, and 9,600 units were under construction as of March 2020, but pandemic-driven economic uncertainly again threatens both housing production and construction jobs, further highlighting the importance of the Plumbers Union project.
The Plumbers Union project will contribute to the revitalization of the section of Market Street near the intersection of Van Ness Avenue known as the Hub, where three major projects are nearing final approval at the Board of Supervisors. A broader Planning Department plan for the area that includes 15 more sites as well as significant impact fees and other community benefits is expected to be considered by the Board again in early 2021.
The Plumbers Union project is scheduled to complete construction in 2024.