Housing proposal raises some doubts

With plans for office space being dropped in favor of housing, some residents wonder if thousands of residential units are the right addition for the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.

Seven years after dot-com office space was proposed for a section of Bayview-Hunters Point known as Executive Park, the latest plans for the 71 acres near Monster Park just west of U.S. Highway 101, however, now call for up to 2,800 housing units to house 8,000 people.

Buildings would rise from the current maximum height of 200 feet to 240 feet as part of a special residential use district designation that would provide design guidelines, affordable housing minimums and traffic improvements.

Some residents are concerned that the proposal won’t benefit them and that there is insufficient infrastructure to accommodate thousands of new residents.

A lack of infrastructure including sewers and electricity is a major hurdle for the proposal, said Michael Hamman, a longtime neighborhood resident who serves on a number of panels and commissions.

“There’s nothing there,” Hamman said of the site. “This is like the wilderness.”

While housing is the new development trend, additional open space and other community amenities rarely seem to follow additional condominiums and apartments, Hamman said.

One hundred twenty-eight condominiums have been built since 2000 in the Executive Park area and 180 are under way while developers are hoping for the green light to build additional units in excess of those already approved. Executive Park owners and developers Yerby Company and Universal Paragon Corporation aim to construct a total of about 1,600 units.

Yerby proposes to demolish an existing three-story office building to make way for five residential buildings to construct 499 residential units, each eight- to 24-stories tall. Universal Paragon aims to tear down two office buildings and construct eight buildings, ranging from four to 24 stories.

Community activist and newspaper publisher Willie Ratcliffe said the latest plans likely wouldn’t help current residents.

The biggest concern for residents of Bayview Hunters-Point and Visitacion Valley is their struggle to stay in their neighborhood amid pressures from new developments, Ratcliffe said.

Among the things residents told planners they hope to gain are a new grocery store and playgrounds.

Prior to construction, state law requires that the impacts of such a plan be reviewed and publicly reported. The public has until Nov. 27 to articulate to city planners what they think ought to be included in that environmental review.

On Wednesday, a public scoping meeting to advise planners on what to include in the environmental report is scheduled at Executive Park, 5 Thomas Melon Drive, from 6 to 8 p.m.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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