San Francisco’s New Treasure: Mixed-Use Communities on Bay Islands

Construction work has begun on a massive redevelopment project at Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands.

By Gail Kalinoski

Rendering of Treasure Island, San Francisco
Treasure Island, San Francisco

San Francisco—Construction of one of San Francisco’s largest mixed-use projects is underway at Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands, where a massive $6 billion redevelopment of a former naval base has entered its first phase.

Phase One of the development in San Francisco Bay, which will eventually have 8,000 residential units, includes about 2,100 units along with about 500 hotel rooms, retail and 90 acres of parks and open space, according to the Treasure Island Community Development. TICD is a joint venture between Lennar Urban, Kenwood Investments, Stockbridge Capital Group and Wilson Meany. The joint venture recently took possession of lands in the first phase from the Treasure Island Development Authority, the city agency overseeing the redevelopment project.

“It’s taken almost two decades to get to this point and we’re eager to transform this former naval base into a vibrant community with more housing, jobs and economic opportunities for our residents,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a prepared statement.

The city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the development in 2011.

“A transformative development like this only happens because of the strong partnership with the city and the community,” Kofi Bonner, president of Lennar Urban, said in a prepared statement. “Together we are committed to creating another unique San Francisco neighborhood.”

Lennar Urban is also the master developer of the $8 billion, 775-acre mixed-used development at Candlestick Point and is building the adjacent San Francisco Shipyard project, where it plans 12,000 housing units. Phase One of Candlestick Point will include retail, a film arts center and more than 2,200 residential units.

The Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands development is required to provide about 2,000 affordable units, or 25 percent of the total housing. All of Yerba Buena Island north of the Bay Bridge, approximately 80 acres, and about 45 acres on Treasure Island along its western shoreline will be developed in the first phase. More than 40 outdated structures are being demolished in the next several months to begin building the new housing, including about 250 townhomes on Yerba Buena Island followed by 400 to 500 units in midrise buildings on Treasure Island, according to the San Francisco Business Journal.

Earthwork and infrastructure construction will start shortly for installation of utilities and development of new roads. Work will also be done on parks and shoreline open space, including geotechnical improvement to help protect against potential sea level rise. The infrastructure work for Phase One is expected to take about 2 ½ years and cost at least $155 million, the business newspaper reported.

Transportation improvements will include a new intermodal transit hub with a ferry terminal for ferry service between Treasure Island and San Francisco.

The development, expected to take about 20 years to build out, will also include 140,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 100,000 square feet of office space but it is unclear when those buildings would be erected.

Treasure Island will have two neighborhoods, one on the western side looking back to the city, and a second on the east end with a view of the Bay Bridge and the East Bay hills. The Yerba Buena Island neighborhood will be built on existing development areas around the top of the island. Both neighborhoods are designed to be among the city’s most sustainable and scenic communities and will be walkable and bikeable, the developers said.

Treasure Island was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1936 and 1937 for the Golden Gate International Exposition. The island later became a naval air station, operating until 1993 and eventually being closed in 1997. Last May, the U.S. Navy officially conveyed 290 acres that had been used by the Navy on Yerba Buena Island and approximately half of its land on Treasure Island to the TIDA, according to the developers. The Navy also turned over 518 acres of submerged land surrounding the islands.

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