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Nonprofit to build 70 senior homes on site of old Bernal Heights Big Lots

A person walks by a beige urban building with a "For Sale" sign under a sunny sky.
The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center just paid $2 million for the site of a former Big Lots to make way for 70 senior homes. | Source: Philip Pacheco for The Standard

A local nonprofit has filed plans to transform an old Big Lots location and parking lot into 70 senior homes in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. 

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center wants to make all of those homes affordable for residents making between 30% and 120% of the area median income. 

While the project is still in its earliest stages and has to be reviewed by the city’s Planning Department, the nonprofit cleared a big hurdle by purchasing the vacant commercial building at 3333 Mission St. for $2,050,000, according to public documents filed last week. 

“We are excited to have begun the entitlement process for a mixed-use residential development,” the nonprofit’s director, Gina Dacus, said in a statement. 

In addition to housing, the center intends to build a public park, a community room and retail space, Dacus said.

Because the neighborhood is mostly zoned for low-density residential development, Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center is asking to invoke the state density bonus program to fit in the proposed number of units. Also known as SB 35, the law streamlines approvals for housing developments where 50% to 100% of units are set aside as affordable. 

An empty parking lot with boarded-up entrances, adjacent buildings, and overgrown foliage under a clear sky.
The former site of Big Lots is now poised to be redeveloped into senior housing. | Source: Philip Pacheco for The Standard

The seller on the other end of this deal was Big Lots Stores, the discount retail chain, which closed its last location in San Francisco at the site in 2022. On top of the unused commercial suite are 49 apartments that will remain untouched, according to the application. 

The new 70-unit building will include 42 parking spaces built “podium style”—meaning that the garage will be located at the base of the building. 

Down the street, the center is also planning to develop another affordable housing project at the former 3300 Club, which was heavily damaged by a 2016 fire. At that site, the nonprofit has proposed to build 35 below-market-rate studios.