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Construction Unions Slam Mission District's Controversial "Beast on Bryant"

Press conference heaps criticism on long divisive development

The long slog for local developers’ plans to turn the building at the corner of Bryant and 18th into a six-story, 328-unit housing complex goes on (and on, and on).

On Thursday, the Northern California chapter of the Laborers Local 261 held a press conference in front of the flashpoint building to decry the project. According to Mission Local, union complaints were in line with the usual criticisms of the (unaffectionately nicknamed) "Beast on Bryant" — specifically, that it should include more affordable housing and that the developer should have to replace the manufacturing space that would be lost when the current tenants are scattered.

It should go without saying, but Local 261 also insisted on union labor for any construction that eventually happens. Of course.

Nick Podell, whose eponymous company operates out of a Drumm Street office, attempted to placate angry neighbors in the past by offering to find new homes for artist groups displaced by the development. He has also offered 40 percent of the units on site as affordable housing.

But critics remain unimpressed. At yesterday’s press conference, they pointed out that under Podell’s proposal, the city would have to front the costs of actually building those new units, with Podell Company providing only the land.

Podell tried to push plans into overdrive last fall when it looked as if a neighborhood housing moratorium might pass, which nettled the Planning Commission and crystallized neighborhood opposition Since then he’s offered to change his vision for the building, but for the time being it looks as if the project is stuck at an impasse. The waiting game favors the opposition, so there’s little incentive for them to back down.

Also on hand yesterday were two of the candidates for the Mission’s soon-to-be-vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors. All of the declared candidates say they don’t support the present version of the project. Tough crowd.