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Mercy Housing's Unveiling

Today, Mercy Housing started taking apps for its 150-unit, $75M masterpiece at 1180 4th in Mission Bay. The mixed-use complex, which'll deliver in June, aims to combine housing for formerly homeless families with standard multifamily and restaurant space.

We wrangled some of the players involved: Kennerly Architecture's Owen Kennerly, Mercy Housing's Jennifer Dolin, and Mithun|Solomon's Dan Solomon. When Mercy Housing beat out other nonprofit developers in 2011, it entered the long process of securing money via transit-oriented design funds and tax credits, Jennifer says. The project is unique because 50 units are set aside for homeless families (most of the other 100 units are available for the general public). It’s quite difficult for some families to afford to live in S.F., she points out, and this is a rare chance to help them live in a new and exciting neighborhood. The project's getting calls for the ground-floor restaurant spaces.

S.F. has a good history of creating wonderful communities for some of its most vulnerable citizens, Dan says. In this project, the lobby has a framed view of the bay, and there’s a giant outdoor movie screen built into the courtyard. (One question: How often will that five-piece string quartet be out there?) Owen says one of the biggest challenges when designing the building was that there were no other buildings on the adjacent parcels, causing them to design in a context that didn’t exist yet. (Every artist knows the agony of the blank canvas.)

Mercy Housing's 70-unit project at 1100 Ocean near City College, above, will house some transitional-age youth. Construction just started and will wrap up in January. Owen is also working on another project with Mercy Housing on the corner of 6th and Howard with 67 affordable units that’s going out to bid soon. He’s also one of three design architects working on AvalonBay’s 182 units under construction at Oak and Octavia (which he's chatting about at AIA today).