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Curbed San Francisco

March 30, 2016

Treasure Island Transformation Begins

By Adam Brinklow

You couldn’t quite call the work being done on Treasure Island and adjoining Yerba Buena Island right now a groundbreaking, since in fact the ground is more being smushed, pushed around, and refashioned.

After many, many years of talk, wrangling, and speculation, including about whether or not the site is a radioactive health hazard (opinions vary), the earliest work has begun on the multi-billion dollar development project to turn San Francisco’s overlooked kid brother island into prime real estate. The first phase calls for the demolition of some existing buildings, and the beginnings of infrastructure work.

Treasure Island has always been an odd duck among San Francisco neighborhoods. Artificially constructed for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition, the island’s gorgeous bay views should by rights make it a plum destination.

Instead it’s a wind-blasted no-man’s land, with only a handful of residents and businesses. Redevelopment plans have been in the pipe for decades, but acquiring land from the Navy, as well as ongoing concerns about potential toxicity and the seismic soundness of the island’s landfill construction, held up the start date.

Despite all of that, a virtual stew of developers, architects, and money men — including Lennar Inc; Stockbridge Capital; Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill; Perkins & Will; Wilson Meany; and Kenwood Investments — foresee a future where Treasure Island hosts 8,000 new residential housing units (2,000 of them priced as affordable housing), three hotels, and hundreds of thousands of feet of commercial space.

About 300 of the 465 project acres will be green space. There are also plans for a new ferry terminal to more firmly tether island dwellers to the mainland. Via Twitter, Mayor Ed Lee said he’s “excited to transform Treasure Island.”

Construction of the first few hundred residential homes is slated to begin next year, but the full plan, as approved by the city in 2011, will play out over 20 years.

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