The failed plans go public — finally.
Although Mayor Gavin Newsom and his staff have been negotiating with the San Francisco 49ers and the team’s chosen developer, Lennar Corp., for nearly a year, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and the general public were given their first look Tuesday at the stadium plan that is driving The City’s football team south to land-rich Santa Clara.
The latest plan — different from a previous version approved by voters in 1997 — ambitiously proposed to create an entire neighborhood around the stadium, with housing, shops and recreation areas.
Team officials — who abruptly pulled out of negotiations with The City two weeks ago — say that there are too many problems to make the plan feasible from their perspective. Concerns expressed include the enormity of needed infrastructure such as new roads, a massive 9,300-car parking garage they say would be undesirable to fans, the disruption on game days caused by years of construction and the potential risks of numerous needed approvals at the local, state and federal levels.
Lisa Lang, spokeswoman for the 49ers, said the team didn’t mind if the plan became public, but added that it didn’t matter what the Board of Supervisors thought of the current proposal, because the 49ers had already rejected it.
“We’re open to new ideas, new alternatives, some things that
haven’t been considered,” Lang said. “But it doesn’t change the way we feel about this project at that site.”
One possible substitute site that has been put on the table by The City is moving the stadium to former Hunters Point shipyard land.
Several board members questioned why they were being pulled in for support so late in the game.
Supervisor Jake McGoldrick accused the mayor’s staff of “minimizing Lennar’s contact with the Board of Supervisors” and said bringing in the legislative body would have brought needed transparency to the project.
Michael Cohen, The City’s chief negotiator on the project, said plans had not been released prior due to confidentiality agreements with the 49ers.
Now, with the 49ers’ permission to release the plan, Cohen said he hopes that the Board of Supervisors would “come together as part of the larger San Francisco political family and help us make the policy decisions necessary to keep the 49ers in San Francisco on terms that respect The City’s values.”
At Tuesday’s board meeting, the 49ers’ chief financial officer, Larry MacNeil, didn’t offer much optimism that all sides could find a plan they would agree upon.
“This is not our first crack at this,” MacNeil said. “These are big challenges.”
The 49ers have said they hope to open their new stadium — whether it be in San Francisco or Santa Clara — by 2012. In order to get on track for that goal, The City would need to get the 49ers’ approval — as well as that of the Board of Supervisors — on an alternate plan by March 2007, Cohen said. A two-year environmental impact review would then take place, with construction slated to beginby 2009.
One of the most tangible elements of the plan rejected by the 49ers is replacing flat ground-level parking with a parking garage. In order to build the housing and commercial development on the existing land at Candlestick Point, the parking spaces would have to be stacked up, although a consultant for the developer said multiple entrances and exits to the garage would ease the traffic flowing in and out of the structure.
Team officials have said the parking garage will eliminate the game-day tradition of tailgating, in which fans meet for pregame cookouts on the asphalt. Officials for The City and Lennar have suggested that fans would have an even better tailgating experience at the open-air top level of the parking garage, which has enough space for 1,500 cars and some rooftop greenery. In addition, the plan promotes “new urban tailgating” opportunities provided by the various sports bars, restaurants and live music venues clustered along the street leading up to the stadium.
If the 49ers decide to leave San Francisco, The City would still go forward with the residential and commercial building plans on Candlestick Point, Cohen said.
Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who represents the Bayview-Hunters Point area, said that the local residents are counting on the economic opportunity promised when the 49ers unveiled their first proposal nearly 10 years ago, which included a mall, but not housing.
“We make sure we do everything as a city family to make sure that the commitments that were made to this community really happens,” Maxwell said.
The neighborhood that wasn’t
The 275-acre Candlestick Point plan created by Lennar Corp. centered the 49ers’ new stadium within a new neighborhood that would have been created in The City’s southeast sector.
In the surrounding vicinity, the plan envisioned a transit station near the stadium, a retail main street with a grocery store and retail shops, mid- and high-rise buildings, as well as 150,000 square feet of office space, 150-acres of revitalized state park land, and a new 200-room hotel.
The development would have also included 6,500 new homes, 200 of which would be for residents of the nearby Alice Griffith public housing project, which would be torn down.
The new mixed-use development would have created 3,000 new permanent jobs, in addition to the current 2,000 day-of-game jobs. Another 11,000 construction jobs would have been created to build the new stadium neighborhood, promised Lennar Corp.
The price to The City? Nothing, according to Lennar’s local chief, Kofi Bonner.
“All along, the developer will be responsible for all the infrastructure costs associated with the development,” Bonner told the Board of Supervisors. Such costs would include new roads, utilities, and the cost of a proposed $200 million people mover that would take fans from a nearby Caltrain station to the stadium.
Lennar would also contribute about $100 million to the 49ers’ stadium costs, estimated at between $600 million and $800 million.
Larry MacNeil, the chief financial officer for the 49ers, said the “sheer magnitude” of the needed infrastructure “injected a level of risk” in terms of costs and government approvals that the team wasn’t willing to assume.