Place-Based Community Spaces at HOPE SF

San Francisco’s HOPE SF Initiative is the nation’s first large-scale reparative initiative aimed at transforming public housing into mixed-income communities without mass displacement. Designed to be completed in phases to prevent the displacement of legacy residents, the different phases of the initiative also include the development of parks and community-focused spaces surrounding residential neighborhoods.

The Sunnydale neighborhood is currently in Phase 1A3, which includes the construction of a brand-new Community Hub. Anchored at the Southeast corner of John McLaren Park at the corner of Sunnydale Avenue and Hahn Street, the Sunnydale Community Hub will include a 35,000 sq. ft. campus of buildings and outdoor spaces that function as a gateway into the neighborhood and a space for community programs.

Led by Mercy Housing California, the construction of the Sunnydale Community Hub is anchored by the development of two new mixed-use buildings with commercial spaces on the ground floor and high-quality affordable housing on the floors above. The two new buildings will be connected by a tree-lined pedestrian walkway, with seating and gathering spaces for Sunnydale residents. The planned ground-floor commercial spaces are dedicated to the goal of creating a space for Sunnydale residents to run errands, buy groceries, access inclusive services, and share community. Some of the planned commercial spaces include a grocery store, a café with outdoor seating, an early childhood education center, and a Department of Public Health Wellness Center.

The Community Hub development process has been grounded in conversations with Sunnydale residents. The vision for these spaces has been built around community engagement work in which residents guided the planning phase by sharing what they wanted to see brought into the neighborhood. Due to historical marginalization such as the use of redlining policies in neighborhood development, a grocery store offering fresh produce is not located close to the Sunnydale community. Sunnydale residents often cook healthy meals for themselves and their families, using a variety of produce in meal preparation. They deserve a local grocer where they aren’t forced to travel far distances to purchase fresh groceries, and this was centered in the Community Hub’s planned inclusion of a grocer in the incoming commercial spaces of Phase 1A3.

Development Phase 1A3 is also heavily focused on creating third spaces for HOPE SF residents. Defined as a space for community gathering between the first space of home and second space of work, place-based third spaces are vital for access to areas where the community can freely stroll around public space filled with trees and greenery, rest at various benches, and connect with neighbors in a place outside of work or home.

Additionally, the Sunnydale Community Hub will feature six mini retail spaces on the ground floor, with the goal of leasing each space at below-market rates to local businesses with strong ties to the neighborhood community. This development is underway, and Mercy Housing is currently taking applications from local retailers and HOPE SF resident-owned small businesses. The mini retail spaces are open to all local businesses; however, priority is given to businesses owned by Sunnydale residents during the application process. Julia Katz, Commercial Director for Mercy Housing, describes this development as “an opportunity for wealth building and community. We’re going to be working on place-making efforts so residents are coming to this street, and really supporting the sustainability and long-term success of the community.” As a part of the development plan, Mercy Housing is putting together a Community Retail Advisory Committee comprised of four Sunnydale residents and four representatives from local CBOs who will weigh in on who is ultimately selected as vendors in the mini retail spaces coming to the new Sunnydale Community Hub.

As we transition into the new year, new opportunities like those presented by the ongoing phases of development at HOPE SF bring new place-based spaces for community gatherings and opportunities for residents to be centered in new commercial areas. If you are a Sunnydale resident with your own small business, or a local organization interested in applying for this retail opportunity, please follow this link to learn more.

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