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Toxic soil claims stall San Francisco shipyard development

Dive Brief:

  • Kofi Bonner, co-chief operating officer of Five Point Holdings, developer of the Hunters Point Shipyard/Candlestick Point project on and around the site of a former U.S. Navy shipyard in San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the project will be delayed for years due to uncertainty around potentially radioactive soil that is scaring off investors and potential homebuyers.
  • Developers still aim to build more than 12,000 homes, 300 acres of parks, offices, schools and retail developments on the site, but many of those plans were stymied after claims that soil tests and cleanup records completed for the property were falsified. Two former employees of Tetra Tech, which was hired to perform the environmental work under a $250 million contract, pleaded guilty to fabricating soil-related documentation and were sentenced to prison. The Navy, which still has possession of the Hunters Point property, with the exception of one section, Parcel A — which was supposedly never exposed to the Navy’s radiological operations at the shipyard — will not release the land to the city or developers until the soil gets the all-clear through retesting. Officials said they will start testing Parcel A as well.
  • Lennar has built approximately 450 homes on Parcel A, where residential construction continues. Bonner said the company will focus on the Candlestick Point portion of the development, where site and utility work is currently underway without the shadow of potentially toxic soil. Approximately 7,200 residential units, 300,000 square feet of commercial development and a 200-room hotel have been approved for the site, according to Bisnow, but the company in April scuttled plans for a 635,000-square-foot shopping mall, citing a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail market.

Dive Insight:

The city of San Francisco named Lennar master developer of the Candlestick Point and Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopments back in 1999, but in 2009, Lennar formed Five Point Holdings to handle that and other California developments.
According to current bid notices issued by the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, it is seeking proposals for structural concrete, earth and civil work to be completed within Parcel A, with Green Field Construction Group coordinating the bid process. Two other bid notices indicate that McCormack Baron Salazar, a real estate firm that specializes in affordable and urban housing, is coordinating the procurement of architects, engineers and other professional services firms for an affordable housing project, also in Parcel A.
The Navy is also involved in an environmental dispute regarding a landfill on nearby Yerba Buena Island. The Navy claims that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) should pay $11 million to clean up the landfill, but the agency said the Navy was supposed to clean it up before it transferred ownership to the state back in 2011. The Navy, which handed over the land so that Caltrans could start construction on the $6.6 billion eastern span of the Bay Bridge, said the agency and its contractors had left bridge paint, waste and construction debris at the site.

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