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Developer dives into Design District with over 200 units

The developer likes the triangular slice of land because of the surrounding neighborhood's unique mix of design and manufacturing residents, said CEO Mark MacDonald. The Design District is known for its production, design and repair uses, and has long been a center for San Francisco's maker community.

“It’s a very vibrant neighborhood, attractive to technology workers, folks kind of in the manufacturing industry — it’s at the nexus of a lot of interesting and exciting parts of the city,” MacDonald said. “It’ll attract a lot of interesting tenants.”

Nearby, a spate of other projects have aimed to preserve the area’s design roots. Developer SKS Partners broke ground earlier this year on a 130,000-square-foot office and production, design and repair building at One De Haro St. At 150 Hooper St., meanwhile, a new site opened in October to lease space to makers and manufacturers at permanently affordable rates.

DM wants to latch on to that spirit. To make the units more affordable to the creative class and students, DM has pegged the 300 De Haro site as apartments rather than condos, which gives the developer more financial flexibility, MacDonald said. Some existing commercial tenants may also slide into the new retail space. 30 of the units will be designated as below market rate.

“Our goal is to find creative ways to make the rents more affordable to a much broader range of individuals. That’s a strong focus for the project,” MacDonald said.

Nearby, DM also built a 69-unit condo project at 815 Tennessee in Dogpatch, and has another 28-unit project at 188 Octavia in Hayes Valley. This would be the developer's biggest rental project in San Francisco, although it has others underway in Los Angeles, MacDonald said.

"We’ve been focusing more on rental products than condos, and it’s not because we don’t like condos, but it’s just become very difficult to make condo projects pencil," MacDonald said.