Lennar’s $8 billion Hunters Point-Candlestick Point redevelopment in San Francisco, on which the Miami-based company has been working since 1999, is finally poised to start building homes.

Over the past several months, Lennar Urban, the division supervising this 770-acre redevelopment, has been installing infrastructure for the project’s 63-acre Phase I. Lennar has entitlements for 1,600 homes on this parcel. A spokesman for Kofi Bonner, president of Lennar Urban, tells BUILDER that the current plan calls for building 1,200 condos and townhouses at Phase I, with vertical construction for the first two blocks beginning next spring.

Four hundred of those housing units will be priced for low-income buyers, and Phase I also will include 25 acres of parks, trails and open space, and 9,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Last week, Lennar completed its environmental impact report (EIR) for the much-larger Phase II of the redevelopment, which paves the way for city and Lennar to seek final approvals from local, state, and federal agencies. Lennar has entitlements for 10,500 housing units at Phase II, whose current plan calls for 910 townhouses or townhouse-style condos, 5,950 low-rise flats, 865 mid-rise flats and 2,775 high-rise flats.

About 75% of Phase II will be built at Candlestick Point. It will include 125,000 square feet of retail space, 150,000 square feet of office space, a 220-room hotel, 12 acres of city parks, and 85 acres of state parks.

The plan calls for a 10,000-seat indoor sports arena to be built at Candlestick Point as well as a 69,000-seat football stadium at Hunter’s Point, although that latter piece is still up in the air as the San Francisco 49ers mull a move from the city to Santa Clara. If that happens, Lennar instead will use that space to build more homes, offices, and research facilities. The combined redevelopment is already slated to have 2.5 million square feet of research and development space, including a $20 million, 80,000-square-foot United Nations Global Compact Center that will study global warming and other environment issues.

Hunters Point will have a total of 55 acres of city parks, 100 acres of sports fields, and 83 acres of state parks.

A transportation plan for this redevelopment calls for significant road improvements and the extension of rail and bus service to these neighborhoods. However, the plan also emphasizes walking and bicycling. Ten thousand new trees will be planted within the neighborhoods. 

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by 2016, although local reports estimate it could take until 2023. What the finished product will ultimately look like is anyone’s guess, as this redevelopment has been like an amoeba, changing shape to accommodate voters, local residents, special interest groups, government officials, and protesters who have objected to this redevelopment almost from day one.

These protesters have argued against the development on the grounds that they believe Lennar got a sweetheart deal from the city and has not kept its promises in terms of the site’s environmental cleanup and the composition of the homes it intends to build. In its defense, Lennar can point to its engagement in one of the most aggressive community outreach efforts undertaken by any major builder. It has also been willing to compromise and yield to some community and municipal pressure to keep the project moving forward.

Since 1993, when the Defense Department turned over its abandoned shipyard at Hunter’s Point to San Francisco, this project has been controversial. The shipyard, which looks over San Francisco Bay, was highly toxic, and remediation is being handled by the U.S. Navy, which got some heat recently when it sent out a notice of its intention to dissolve a community board overseeing its cleanup efforts. (Some residents blame the shipyard’s contamination for higher incidences of cancer and asthma in the community.)

Environmental groups and community activities have also accused Lennar of being less than diligent in the way it has contained particulate matter as it has prepped the site for construction. Environmental groups now oppose a bridge that would connect Hunter’s Point and Candlestick Point, claiming it would endanger wildlife, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

However, many community leaders have long supported this project. Nearly half of the 35,000 residents of the blighted Bayview neighborhood near Hunter’s Point are African-American, and Lennar’s redevelopment is seen by many here as the last best chance to bring new businesses and jobs to an impoverished area of one of America’s richest cities.

John Caulfield is senior editor at BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.