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San Francisco Chronicle

July 10, 2012

No better place for China to invest than S.F.

By Steve Falk and Vince Courtney

Last week brought quite a surprise when we learned that the Chinese government is in negotiations to finance and assist in construction of San Francisco’s two largest redevelopment projects.

This has the potential to be great news for all of San Francisco. On behalf of labor and business, we are voicing our strong support that the development group led by Lennar Corp. will get the deal with China Development Bank completed quickly.

Lennar and its partners, which include San Francisco’s Stockbridge Capital and Wilson Meany, reportedly are in talks with the China Development Bank for approximately $1.7 billion to accelerate development of infrastructure and construction for the Treasure Island and Hunters Point Shipyard-Candlestick Point projects.

We agree it is a shame that no U.S. financial institution has been willing to lend to these projects on reasonable terms. It’s no secret that our credit markets have remained incredibly constrained since the housing crisis of 2008. Our infrastructure is crumbling, yet the local, state and federal funding programs to rebuild America are held captive by politics, bureaucracy and a weak economy.

Fortunately, the long-term trends are very positive for the Bay Area and, particularly, for these projects. San Francisco is a world-class city that continues to be a magnet for professionals eager to use their knowledge to change and improve our lives.

The timing is right. Our city is in a housing crunch, and these two projects take advantage of woefully underutilized land to provide more than 20,000 units, with nearly a third of them affordable housing.

We only wish this had happened sooner.

Our construction trades need the jobs. Our businesses need the contracts. With the growing influx of technology companies to San Francisco – and the enterprises that support those companies – we are in need of not only housing but of office, commercial and retail space.

Should we be concerned about a Chinese state-owned enterprise investing in the United States? We don’t think so. As everyone knows, the Chinese are growing their own economy and are looking to invest in industrialized nations. Frankly, there is no better place for the Chinese to invest their dollars than back in America and especially in San Francisco, the gateway to the Pacific.

As a chamber of commerce, we work closely with the Mayor’s Office and our China SF partnership to provide opportunities for local businesses in China. In fact, we applaud the entrepreneurial spirit of the many U.S. companies that have taken advantage of China’s resources; we should willingly accept its capital on our shores.

Wisely, city leaders negotiated development contracts that require the use of quality labor, local workers, local suppliers and local subcontractors. While the construction work may be managed by a global business based in China (with U.S. headquarters in San Francisco), the design and construction jobs will be filled by American workers.

In many ways, San Francisco is the ideal city for the Chinese to make their first attempt at financing and overseeing parts of a major construction project. Our city has close ties with China. Many of our residents are Chinese American. Much of our past has been closely linked with China.

We all should be pushing for this deal to get done as soon as possible.

Read the original story here.