Key investor in Mission project is also part owner of ParkMerced, where union workers were replaced with a nonunion contractor

Labor is joining Mission activists in a protest against a 16th and Mission developer
Labor is joining Mission activists in a protest against a 16th and Mission developer

By Tim Redmond

JUNE 23, 2105 — Labor leaders and community activists will rally Wednesday morning to protest the 16th and Mission development project that is linked to the same investor who owns Park Merced, where union maintenance workers were fired and replace by a nonunion contractor.

The rally starts at 16th and Mission, and is sponsored by SEIU United Service Workers West, Jobs with Justice, and the Plaza 16 Coalition.

The connection between the two projects is a huge deal. All of organized labor is furious at Park Merced – the last time I was out there reporting on the picket lines, Tim Paulson, the head of the Labor Council, was seething at what had happened.

And if labor opposes the already controversial Monster in the Mission, the project will have even less chance of success.

We’re starting to see the once-solid building trades backing off from supporting every single deal that involves construction jobs. And it will be hard for anyone at City Hall to support a developer who has created such bad will with the unions.

This is what Maximus says the project at 16th and Mission will look like
This is what Maximus says the project at 16th and Mission will look like

The main connection between the two projects is a man named Robert Rosania. He’s a New York real-estate investor who had some tough times in the last recession, but has emerged to buy up properties on the West Coast.

He also loves to buy fancy Champagne and open bottles with a sword.

As recently as November, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that Rosania was a key partner in Park Merced. “Rosania has steered Park Merced though enormous challenges,” PJ Johnston, a spokesperson for the project, said. The story said Rosania would “continue as a managing partner” at Park Merced.

Rosania’s name appears in a series of complex Oct. 14, 2014 real-estate transfers involving the Park Merced property. The documents on file with the city Assessor’s Office show that pieces of Park Merced were transferred to entities called Maximus PM 1 Mezzanine LLC and Maximus PM 2 Mezzanine LLC, both Delaware corporations; the deeds were signed by Rosania.

Johnston told me by email yesterday that Rosania is currently part of the investment group that owns Park Merced.

Rosania is also a key player in Maximus Real Estate, which operates Maximus BP 1979 LLC, the developer behind the Mission and 16th project.

Documents on file with the Secretary of State’s Office show that Rosania is a member (which means partner) in Maximus-BP 1979 Mission LLC, the legal entity that now owns the site of what is being called the Monster in the Mission.

Documents also show that Maximus Mezzanine 1 LLC is a partner in the Park Merced project.

Bert Polacci, a lobbyist with Public Advocacy Partners, represents both Park Merced, where he has been part of the team for some time, and Maximus, records on file with the Ethics Commission show.

So it’s pretty hard to argue that there’s no connection between Park Merced and the Mission St. Project.

The main issue that protesters have raised about the Maximus project is the lack of affordable housing in the Mission – and the fear that a huge influx of market-rate housing on that block will lead to even more gentrification and displacement.

The plan calls for 209 high-end rental units and 41 “workforce” housing condos. The developer has agreed to build 49 more affordable units offsite.

The 49 affordable units won’t even cover the direct impacts of the project itself, much less help the housing crisis in the community.

A moratorium on new market-rate housing in the neighborhood would shut the project down, at least for 18 months, while a community planning process goes on that might lead to different types of zoning. Advocates have a very short window of time to collect the signatures, and then would have to win at the ballot in November.

It’s almost certain that Maximus will fight any ballot measure.

But now the role of labor takes the fight to a new level. I just talked to Tim Paulson, the head of the SF Labor Council, and while the council hasn’t taken a position on the 16th and Mission project yet, he said “we absolutely support this protest against Maximus because of the horrible way that workers have been treated at Park Merced.”

The Building Trades Council isn’t supporting the Maximus project at this point, and is actually opposing at least one big project in the Mission. In fact, the union on May 26 passed a resolution opposing eight other developments in the neighborhood — including most of those that would be impacted by the moratorium.

So we are seeing a historic convergence of labor and community housing activists – and that isn’t good news for Maximus.

The rally starts at 11am at the 16th and Mission BART plaza.