In July 2015, a development company called ‘Group I’ came to present to our tenant leaders. They wanted to share details of their hotel and condo project proposed for 950 Market Street. By that point, the project had already undergone years of planning and modifications, but the developers had unveiled a brand new plan, so they came to us for feedback. When the tenant leaders saw the plan, they were largely unimpressed and dissatisfied. The project lacked meaningful employment opportunities or affordable housing and it looked like it would be out of place in the neighborhood. We formed a Land Use Committee and the five-tenant committee spent time every week researching possible ways to improve the project.
Soon, the Land Use committee developed a proposal for the developers with requests for how they could create a project that offers meaningful benefits to the Tenderloin. We formed a coalition of local organizations and brought our demands to the developers.
Over the course of 2015 and 2016, our coalition of tenants and staff spent over 100 hours fine-tuning our proposals for the developer and engaged in dozens of negotiations with their company. Finally, with the help of Supervisor Kim’s office, we managed to craft a final agreement that included all of the elements which we had set out to achieve. We won hundreds of thousands of dollars for employment training so we can ensure that local tenants have a chance to work in the on-site hotel (with living wages and good benefits). We crafted a plan that will result in twice as much affordable housing as the original proposal, and the units will be doubly affordable. We received a guarantee that front-line staff at the hotel would be training in verbal de-escalation. Plus, we won serious construction impact mitigation, which will require the developer to limit the times they can do loud construction activity and offer serious benefits to nearby neighbors (like re-location costs, air filters and white machines). We were extremely satisfied with the final agreement and ended up supporting the project and the accompanying affordable housing legislation in the beginning of 2017.
In the coming years, we will monitor the development of this project to ensure that the benefits we were promised are delivered. Plus, we will fight to see the affordable housing at 180 Jones (which will serve as the off-site affordable housing for the 950 Market project) gets built soon and has a preference for residents of supportive housing. As much as any other campaign in CCSROC’s history, the 950 Market campaign demonstrated the determination of TL tenants to influence the future of their neighborhood and the power they have to shape it.