The Hunter’s Point Shipyard in San Francisco is a former naval shipyard filled with radiation and industrial toxins. It’s so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Agency has designated it as one of the most polluted sites in the nation. But instead of letting the site fester, San Francisco has just announced plans to rid the shipyard of its toxins and build the U.N. Global Compact Center, a world class climate change think tank and green tech incubator. Due for competition in 2012, the new development will comprise over two million square feed of LEED-certified space.

The city hopes to begin construction in 2011 and when complete, the $20 million, 80,000 square foot center will feature UN Global Compact offices, a clean tech incubator, and a conference center. It will, according to Mayor Gavin Newsom, “serve as an anchor for other sustainable businesses at the Shipyard in much the same way that the University of California and the Stem Cell Institute have anchored Mission Bay’s burgeoning biotech and life sciences cluster.” Translation: the center will hopefully lead to a fresh crop of sustainability-focused businesses in the same area.

There are still some snags to overcome before the center can be built; toxins aren’t projected to be completely cleaned out of the area until the middle of 2012, and it will be a stretch for San Francisco to finish construction the same year. Regardless, the U.N. Global Compact Center will serve as an example of how toxic Superfund sites can be transformed into centers of innovation and inspiration.

+ Hunter’s Point Shipyard

+ Office of the Mayor