Key vote expected in Hunter's Pt. re-development plan

June 2, 2010 7:45:49 PM PDT
It's the eve of a major vote that could determine the future of the most sweeping re-development plan in San Francisco's history. On Thursday, the city Planning Commission is expected to vote on whether to move forward with a project to transform a former naval shipyard into a neighborhood.

Some say it's the most ambitious in the country. That's why the Lennar Corporation took members of the media on a guided tour today of the Hunters Point Shipyard development. This huge parcel of land in the city's southeastern sector was a bustling shipyard in World War II.

The Navy has turned it over to the city and it is now slated to become San Francisco's newest neighborhood.

If all goes as the developer and supporters plan, 10,500 homes will be built; plus retail, parks, businesses and even a United Nations' global warming center. The centerpiece will be an NFL stadium IF the 49ers agree to bypass Santa Clara and stay home.

"We're looking at 10,000 permanent jobs here and over 1,000 construction jobs a year for over 20 years," Michael Cohen from San Francisco Workforce Development said.

The first phase of the project, Parcel A, is already underway after receiving city approval. Construction on 1,400 homes is scheduled to begin this summer.

Now comes a showdown over Parcel B. Kofi Bonner, head of Lennar, says the city already approved a plan back in the 90s but because the design of the project has changed, they must undergo another review.

"At the end of the day, the city and county of San Francisco and especially this community should not be held in some fashion hostage to that plan," he said.

That is likely to kick up a huge debate over toxics. City officials say the Navy has already spent more than $700 million cleaning up toxics at the shipyard, but some community activists strongly disagree and say the soil is still contaminated.

"I know a lot of people say were just anti-development and that's not true. No one wants to see the area developed and cleaned up more than me, but I want it done right," Marie Harrison from Greenaction said.

Overall, it is a 20-year project that supporters believe could pump millions into an economically challenged area.

"I believe it will offer jobs and business opportunities to folks and also support existing businesses. you put that much money in this area and people are going to get a piece of it," Angelo King from the Bayview-Hunters Point Project Area Committee said.

A no-vote on Thursday would mean delay, but supporters won't give up and opponents aren't likely to either.


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