A plan to redevelop more than 770 acres on San Francisco Bay got a boost yesterday when voters approved a proposition backed by Lennar, the project’s master developer, and Mayor Gavin Newsom, who made an eleventh-hour push to get out the vote in favor of the proposal.
“The voters of San Francisco have overwhelmingly approved a new and far more promising future for the residents of Bayview Hunters Point,” said Kofi Bonner, president of Lennar Urban in northern California, in a prepared statement. Turnout was light, but more than three-fifths of residents voted for the plan.
Proposition G, as it is called, combines the redevelopment of Hunters Point (a former Navy shipyard that is now a contaminated brownfield) with the adjoining Candlestick Point. Lennar has committed to install an estimated $1.7 billion in infrastructure to support its construction of between 8,500 and 10,000 houses. Proposition G requires 25 percent of those homes to be offered to buyers at below-market rate, and a few weeks before the proposal went before voters, Lennar reached an agreement with local unions that raised the affordable level to 32 percent. The builder accomplished this through a $27.3 million commitment by Lennar to help local residents finance mortgages for affordable homes purchased within the project or in a nearby neighborhood during the next eight years.
Bonner estimates that Lennar’s “vertical” costs could total more than $6 billion. He told BUILDER in April that the first 1,600-home phase of Hunters Point, known as Parcel A, could be ready for sale sometime next year. The project, when completed, will feature 300 acres of parks, research and development facilities, restaurants, an artist’s village, and more than 700,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. Lennar has committed to construct at least 300 rental units and would rebuild the crumbling Alice B. Griffith apartments on Candlestick Point with the guarantee of not displacing any of its residents.
Proposition G, which also calls for the construction of a new football stadium, was pitched to voters as a way to keep the San Francisco 49ers from going to nearby Santa Clara. To make that happen, the redevelopment would raze the dilapidated Candlestick Park and place the new stadium on 25 acres of Hunters Point. Michael Cohen, the city’s director of economic and workforce development, told BUILDER that no money from the city’s general funds would be used to build the stadium, whose financing is still up in the air.
Money certainly proved to be a factor in many ways in this vote. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the millions of dollars that proponents spent promoting Proposition G broke city funding records for a local ballot measure, according to the San Francisco Ethics Commission. Lennar alone spent an estimated $3.4 million to defeat a competing proposal, called Proposition F, which made the ballot after City Supervisor Chris Daly collected 8,000 signatures supporting it. This version of the proposal called for 50 percent of the homes built within the project to be sold at below-market prices. Daly has also stated that this project should be built without Lennar, whose environmental stewardship of this site when grading began raised questions among opponents of the project.
Bonner had called Proposition F “a poison pill” and threatened that Lennar would pull out as the developer if it passed. But the builder did not have to worry. With approximately 90 percent of the votes tallied, more than three-fifths of voters rejected Proposition F. (Residents had the choice to cast a vote for or against each of the propositions on the ballot.)
For more information on this controversial project's history and background, look for the "Inside Story" department in BUILDER's June 2008 issue.
John Caulfield is a senior editor at BUILDER magazine.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.