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Under Pressure, 75 Howard Tower Cuts Height, and Affordable Units Too

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The long-running saga of the tower at 75 Howard Street continued this week with the news that developer Paramount Group will no longer be asking for a height increase over existing limits for its waterfront condo building. Last time we checked in, New York-based Paramount was attempting to placate neighborhood opponents of their plans for a 25-story tower with an offer to fund 100 below-market-rate units in the Tenderloin at the corner of Eddy and Taylor streets. The community apparently didn't get behind the plan, which is probably now off the table, reports the San Francisco Business Times.

With the abandonment of height limit increases, the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed tower will have 20 stories and 133 condos, down from the 159 previously proposed. At one point, plans called for 31 stories and 186 condos to replace what is now a parking garage, but those ambitions were dashed early on. With the opposition to increased heights from the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods and the local chapter of the Sierra Club, the developer decided to give up on a taller tower altogether and stay within current zoning limits.

It now seems likely that Paramount would pay a roughly $9.5 million fee into the city's affordable housing fund rather than finance a portion of the Tenderloin project, which was a deal that would have provided the city with well above the 12 percent affordable housing required by law for the project. (No below-market-rate units will be built on-site because the BMR residents would be burdened by hefty HOA fees.)

In a city starved for housing, the loss of additional units feels like a lose-lose, not just for future condo owners, but for tenants in the Tenderloin as well.

· Condo Builder Chops Off Heights, Units from Controversial Tower [SF Business Times]
· In Exchange for Waterfront Height, Developer Offers Tenderloin Affordable Housing [Curbed SF]
· 31-Story Residential Tower Project in SoMa Hope for Approval [Curbed SF]
· Sad Chart Confirms SF Isn't Adding New Housing Fast Enough [Curbed SF]