The seven-mile-per-side square of land that is San Francisco, densely settled for decades with precious little to spare in the way of developable land, is poised to embark upon one of the country’s most ambitious brownfield redevelopment initiatives. The Hunters Point Naval Shipyard arose as a location of bustling shipbuilding activity in 1941 as the U.S. became engaged in World War II but has sat idle since 1974. The city’s redevelopment plan calls for the transformation of a toxic, abandoned 700-plus acre parcel into thousands of housing units and businesses that will be powered by clean energy, while integrating the area into the ecologically significant San Francisco Bay.

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The proposed redevelopment has made progress while facing headwinds on many fronts – it has spent many years in the works within the context of a city well-known for politics that are more reminiscent of a full contact spectator sport. Community leaders have worried aloud about the potential for gentrification around the margins of the site, and the possibility of pricing long-term residents of a neighborhood home – and many of the city’s poor out of San Francisco altogether. Environmental groups meanwhile have raised doubts about the adequacy of site clean-up and concerns about the project’s ecological impact. But with a recent court ruling that rejected a challenge to the project’s environmental review, it appears that a green light is granted to permit construction activities to begin.

The plan, once realized, calls for more than 10,000 new housing units, about a third of which will be offered at below market rates to help ensure socioeconomic diversity of the new community. One million square feet of retail space, nearly three million square feet of commercial space, facilities for artists and performers, and 336 acres of parks and green space are all contained in the redevelopment plans.

Further still, the resulting development could result in the greenest neighborhood in a city already boasting of eco-friendly bona fides. 100 percent of the site’s energy needs will come from renewable sources such as hydropower and solar right from the outset, and the developer has an eye on emerging developments in fuel cell, tidal energy and other technologies that could be called upon as well now that the dramatic reinvigoration of Hunters Point Shipyard is poised to get underway.

+ Hunters Point Shipyard