La Fenix ​​circa 1950. Image by Julio Lara, courtesy of Mission Housing Development Corp.

BRIDGE Housing and Mission Housing Development Corp. officially opened La Fénix in 1950, an affordable 157-unit residential community in the San Francisco Mission District.

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

The developers laid the foundation stone for La Fénix in January 2019 and, according to Yardi Matrix, financed the construction with a loan from Wells Fargo Bank of USD 56.3 million. The building was completed a year later and became the largest permanent, affordable development in the area.

The congregation is located on Mission St. 1950 on a former site of the San Francisco Unified School District and consists of two buildings with nine and five floors, which are connected by a courtyard and an open-air bridge on levels two through five. The mix of units includes studios and one- to three-bedroom floor plans ranging from 340 to 980 square feet and 8,300 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, as Yardi Matrix shows.

All units are aimed at households that earn between 45 and 60 percent of the AMI. Of these, 40 apartments are reserved for formerly homeless families. In addition, under the city’s Neighborhood Preference Program, 25 percent of the units are reserved for residents of the surrounding neighborhood.

Amenities include a rooftop playground and communal kitchen and laundry room, and landscaped courtyards. In the neighborhood there is a day-care center, art studios and a gallery as well as a bicycle workshop.

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

A useful change in use

The 1950 mission site was once home to the Phoenix Continuation High School, part of the San Francisco Unified School District with temporary class buildings and parking spaces. In 2007 the SFUSD Board of Education designated the site as excess property. The mayor’s office for housing and community development acquired it in 2014 with a view to affordable housing.

After the purchase, the site was initially used as the city’s first navigation center for temporary use by the homeless. In 2015, MOHCD selected Mission Housing and BRIDGE Housing to develop, own, and operate a permanent, affordable on-site community.

Financial partner

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

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.