When it debuted last October, the new Waterbend Apartments (5880 3rd St.) became the first luxury apartment building in Bayview, with units starting at $2,800 per month.
Now, the neighborhood's supervisor has put the luxury complex on blast for an advertising campaign that describes Bayview "as the next Mission."
In a viral Facebook post, District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen called out the ads as an example of cultural insensitivity.
“'Disrespectful' does not even begin to describe the asinine mistake that Waterbend Apartments made when they released this ad for new apartments in the Bayview to the public ... Your description of your planned housing—'urban living at its best'—is cultural appropriation at its worst.
And what on earth could you possibly mean by 'Grow With Us as Bayview Becomes The Next Mission?!' The Mission is ground zero for aggressive tech gentrification. Points for transparency on what you thought your plans were for our neighborhood."
Cohen also expressed outrage with a cable TV commercial for Waterbend, which shows upwardly mobile young people "creating [their] culture," and encourages them to "find the next big thing before anyone else."
"The next Mission?!" wrote one commenter. "Wow, they are real clear that they expect long-term residents to be pushed out for the new young, white and wealthy. Thanks for calling it out."
Back in November, we spoke to Waterbend property manager Amanda Fraley about the company's decision to use advertising connecting the Mission and Bayview.
“A lot of people have been pushed out of neighborhoods like the Mission," she told us at the time. “We are giving a chance to young professionals and business owners at risk of being priced out and want to stay in San Francisco. We currently have a very eclectic and creative crowd here ... It’s a mixture of suburbia and inner city."
"The prices we offer are the same people are paying for apartments in Oakland," she added. "I doubt you are going to find luxury apartments at this price range anywhere else in the city.” (We reached out to Fraley and Waterbend to see if they had a response to Cohen's statement, but they declined to comment.)
Not all of Waterbend's apartments are for the wealthy. As part of San Francisco's affordable housing program, low-income families can apply for a lottery for one and two-bedroom apartments in the complex. A one-bedroom rental unit is offered at $1,133 per month, compared to a market-rate one-bedroom, which starts at $3,000.
Sup. Cohen told us that she is reaching out to both the Mayor's Office of Housing and GreyStar, Waterbend's South Carolina-based parent company property manager, to discuss the advertisements. So far, neither has responded on the matter.
Update, 10pm: Earlier today, Sup. Cohen visited Waterbend's offices and spoke with its regional manager. After the visit, the company let her know that they would be pulling the commercial.
Update, 4/1/17: Emily Heidt, a public relations representative from Waterbend, emailed Hoodline with the following statement:
"We are thrilled to be a part of The Bayview neighborhood and its rich cultural diversity. We regret if we have offended members of the community with our recent advertising as certainly that would never be our intention. We chose to make a significant investment in Bayview because we believe that the community offers a fantastic quality of life for its residents. Waterbend has some of the lowest market rents in south San Francisco and includes 20 workforce-sensitive affordable units which provides a value alternative to a broader section of the greater Bayview neighborhood. We are working closely with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development to complete the process of releasing 20 affordable apartment homes into the community. We are also moving swiftly to withdraw and rethink our ill-conceived advertising campaign. We have reached out to Supervisor Cohen and are exploring ways that we can work together in support of area businesses and the neighborhood.”
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