The Hunters Point Shipyard may once again provide the Bayview community with jobs and residence as the construction of a new urban development continues and the first residential units near completion; however, the community’s desire for stable employment and affordable housing lies in the hands of the developer, Lennar Urban.
Lennar stands that the company’s objective is to reserve jobs on site for the Bayview-Hunters Point workforce, as well as small businesses. “To date we have 43 percent San Francisco residents and 32 percents Bayview residents working on site,” said Lennar’s project manager for the Shipyard, Thor Kaslofsky. “Projects will be broken up to provide opportunities for multiple contracts to be involved.”
Many Hunters Point residents see the project as an easy way to employ people in the community, as the Shipyard previously had until its closure in 1974.
The Shipyard once provide jobs the Hunters Point community, especially African-Americans. The building of trains, merchant ships, warships, and the loading and unloading of cargo gave many employment opportunities and a reason to want to stay in Hunters Point. However, the closure of the Shipyard by its later owners, the U.S. Navy, brought a rise of unemployment in the area. And after the area was declared a toxic site due to nuclear testing, the area was left untouched, leaving a heavy burden on Bayview residents.
After decades of sitting vacant, the land was transferred to Lennar in 2004. Over time the project expanded to include the Alice Griffith Projects and Candlestick Point, including the soon-to-be-vacant Candlestick Park.
Hunters Point continues to struggle high unemployment rates. According to the 2011 census, 14 percent of the 25,760 eligible to work are unemployed. A majority of those with jobs are have to commute to other parts of the city where there are jobs available. Now that construction for the redevelopment has begun, many community members hope the Shipyard will the leading employer for the Bay View, once again.
A Hunters Point native, Claude Carpenter, has worked to get residents jobs in the construction industry after the closure. “Construction is not a job, it’s a career,” stated Carpenter. “In order to build a new community, construction comes first. Since the Shipyard impacts the community, they have a right to be a part of it.”
Over 10,500 units are planned to be built and total completion of the project is expected by 2039. Three hundred acres of parks and recreational areas are planned, and Candlestick Point is to be renovated.
“Everyone in 94124 should get priority for jobs,” said Willie Redmone, Hunters Point resident, “Especially if they are qualified.”
Under their “Small Businesses Enterprise Policy” and “Bayview Hunters Point Employment and Contracting Policy,” Lennar promises 50 percent employment to Hunters Point residents and small businesses. To date, however, there are only 22 workers from Hunters Point, compared to the 38 San Francisco residents working on the site.
As construction continues, Lennar plans to break-up projects to allow for more work opportunities for specialized small businesses and workers.
While many are worried about employment possibilities in the Shipyard, others voiced concerns for how the development will affect the housing market. While many struggle to pay their rent, the fear that bringing people with higher income brackets to the area will raise rent prices has heightened.
“This construction is going to raise rent prices,” said Marvin Robinson, a Third St. business owner. “More low income people will have to move out.”
The development plans states that the Shipyard will include mixed income housing; 30 percent will be reserved for affordable housing.
“I’m in support of Lennar,” said Raymond Chow, who walks his dogs at the beautifully renovated Heron’s Head and India Basin parks. “Some people have lived here forever and don’t want change.”
“They’re trying to take everyone out of the projects and build condos,” said Ashley Gonzalez, a Community College of San Francisco student and Hunters Point resident of three years. “It’s about making money, not a low-income neighborhood.”