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Shipyard redevelopment project yields ample benefits

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Benefits planned to flow to San Franciscans from a massive shipyard redevelopment project, including scores of jobs for unemployed locals, were lauded Thursday.

Some officials and residents, however, expressed skepticism about whether the expensive package of benefits was realistic and whether locals would secure substantial amounts of work.

City officials negotiated a package of benefits to be provided by companies that expect to lead the decades-long redevelopment of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Shipyard plans include more than 10,000 homes, an entertainment arena and new office, retail and research-and-development space.

The benefits were crafted largely to flow into surrounding neighborhoods, where unemployment and poverty levels are high.

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The companies, led by Miami-based Lennar Corp., agreed to provide $120 million to help fund construction of affordable-housing units within the project, $10 million for local schools, a $3.5 million scholarship fund, $2 million for health programs and a range of community facilities and other sweeteners.

One of the community facilities planned is an African marketplace and amphitheater, where farmers markets and performances would be held.

Barbecue areas and a cafe would be built as part of the elegant waterfront project.

The marketplace was designed to celebrate the black history of the shipyard, where blacks worked in large numbers for the Navy.

Planning Commissioner William Lee said during the hearing Thursday that he had never seen a project offer such substantial public benefits, and he questioned whether the promises were realistic.

“Is it going to be doable?” Lee asked city staff. “I’ve never seen a community-benefits package like this. Hopefully they can get the financing.”

Members of the Bayview community said they were worried that promised jobs would go to workers who commute from outside the area.

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, which will oversee the project, has never met its goal of hiring 50 percent of workers from within San Francisco.

Rhonda Simmons, a work force official with Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development, said previous agency projects relied on good-faith efforts by builders to hire locals.

The shipyard redevelopment project, on the other hand, will mandate minimum levels of employment of San Francisco residents, Simmons said.


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