The comparatively few Bay Area residents who have wended their way into the long-defunct Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in recent years have discovered a neglected but surprisingly spacious and grassy acreage with sweeping hillside views of the Bay, a peaceful refuge and a potentially outstanding playground for the isolated southeastern corner of San Francisco.
Now the wheels are turning to redevelop hundreds of acres of this little-seen site into a new green-space treasure offering unique attractions for the entire Bay Area. Under a plan already fully approved by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, Lennar developement company has completed major grading and is putting in streets for Parcel A, a new neighborhood that will be the first phase of a massively ambitious 771-acre master redevelopment plan that could span Hunters Point and even Candlestick Point.
The revitalized former shipyard base is to ultimately contain more than 350 acres of new parks, playgrounds and open space, with numerous trails and rehabilitated wetlands wildlife habitat.Landscaping will begin late next year for Hillpoint Park, the first and largest of more than a dozen parks in Parcel A redevelopment plans. Hillpoint would feature a shipyard vista overlook with picnic areas, public art, playgrounds and trails.
Some one-third of the 63 acres in Parcel A is pledged for parkland and open space. The 1,200 homes will be concealed from view of the landscaped vista slope, giving visitors the experience of a floating sky deck.
Up to now, much of the nearby community reaction to Lennar’s presence has been contentious, with heavy local concerns that grading operations were stirring up toxic dust. Last month, a division of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that redevelopment operations were not adding to the long standing higher-than-normal childhood asthma and other health statistics in Bayview-Hunters Point. The debate over the issue continues.
Another neighborhood concern is that new mixed-use construction on the vacant Navy property would spark gentrification and the weakening of community ties. But it is difficult to envision how the residents of southeastern San Francisco are now being well-served by their district’s continued isolation and lack of facilities.
Hopefully, when the Hunters Point parks and playgrounds are delivered, these welcome neighborhood enhancements will go a long way towards easing the negative feelings of project opponents. It will certainly give the rest of the Bay Area much more incentive to seek out interaction with the out-of-the-way corner.
Lennar’s inclusion of so much inviting open space in its overall plan is simply sound business practice. If the company seriously expects to fill 9,000 residences, 700,000 square feet of retail, a 12,000-seat performance venue and 2 million square feet of office space, it will need to give the larger community ample reason to want to be part of the newly emerging Hunters Point.