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City officials to promote Bayview-Hunters Point redevelopment amidst community fear
of gentrification

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

April 4, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - City officials are expected to promote the latest plan this evening for the redevelopment of San Francisco's southeast neighborhoods and the 49ers may not even play a role in the proposed renaissance.

With the Board of Supervisors, Mayor Gavin Newsom and a dedicated redevelopment company, Lennar Corporation, on board, many believe the project, which began over a decade ago with a stadium proposal, will transform the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods for the better.

The mayor unveiled a plan last week that aims to not only redevelop Candlestick Point, where the 49ers' playing grounds are close to demolition, but to build on the old Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in concert.

Lennar Corp. has already incurred much of the cost of planning the redevelopment and is currently working on cleaning toxic materials from the old navy base. In return, the corporation would get exclusive negotiation rights for developing the area under the mayor's plan.

"The city remains committed to working with the primary developer to attempt to address the 49ers' concerns consistent with the goals and principles set forth in this Framework and to propose a new plan that the 49ers would determine to be feasible," the proposal reads.

"At the same time the city's primary goal is to assure that it can produce a plan that is fiscally prudent for the city and that will deliver parks and public open space, jobs, housing affordable for (Bayview-Hunters Point) residents and other tangible economic and public benefits to the (Bayview-Hunters Point) community and the City as soon as possible."

But while many remain hopeful that city leaders will stick to the goals of community betterment and affordable housing in the new plan, many remain doubtful.

Sharen Hewitt, the executive director of the nonprofit group Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response, said the development of Hunters Point could bring much needed job growth to the area but with the risk of displacing much of the predominately African American community.

"It offers a tremendous opportunity for the City and County of San Francisco, however, at the core of that, there has to be opportunities for the community," Hewitt said. "The question is, is this an opportunity or will this be a plague for the existing population?"

Sharon Hewitt at a recent Police Commission meeting.

Hewitt said she will wait and see whether there's any substance to this plan, but London Breed, who is close to the process said she was optimistic that these plans would eventually lead to action.

"Definitely, this is all conceptual," said Breed, a commissioner on the city's redevelopment agency. "There's a lot to be approved, and we're happy that all the parties involved are on board -- except the 49ers."

Lennar Corp. currently faces hurdles such as a lawsuit brought forward by two former employees and a community liaison who say they were retaliated against after complaining of poor asbestos removal at the shipyard.

Officials from the city's Park, Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee are expected to give a proposal this evening at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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