San Francisco to buy popular Chinatown restaurant to build affordable housing

A popular restaurant named New Asia in San Francisco, Calif. is seen in this undated image. (KGO-TV)

A well-known dim sum restaurant and banquet hall in San Francisco's Chinatown could soon be bought by the city as a future site for affordable housing, city officials said.

The city has agreed to buy the building housing New Asia Restaurant at 772 Pacific Avenue for $5 million from the Yick Family Trust, according to the mayor's office.

The site could allow the construction of up to 50 to 60 affordable housing units in the densely populated Chinatown area, which houses a large number of low-income residents, many of them in single-room occupancy hotels.

"It is a good investment right in the heart of Chinatown and North Beach to create more affordable housing, and that's what we'll do," Mayor Ed Lee said.

District Three Supervisor Aaron Peskin said the idea for the sale was first raised with him by Rose Pak, the well-known Chinatown political advocate, before her death. He said the property presented a rare opportunity in an area with few vacant lots.

"Most of District Three is very densely built," Peskin said. "This is a one story building and there's a lot of room to build on top of it. There are very few opportunities to build like this."

Legislation for the approval of the sale is expected to be introduced to the Board of Supervisors tomorrow, with a vote likely in May.

Any housing on the site would need to go through a planning approval process. No funding has been identified yet for a project on the site, officials said.

New Asia Restaurant has a lease in the building through 2021, officials said.
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