With a new fast ferry service and new accommodations, will Treasure Island finally arrive?

A bustling urban village 10 minutes by ferry from the towers of downtown San Francisco – it’s the dream sold by planners and developers of Treasure Island for a quarter of a century.

And on Wednesday, for the first time, city officials and accompanying journalists got a glimpse of what the future might feel like for those who wish to live in the 8,000 housing units that are expected to appear on the 400 acres. man-made island and former naval base between San Francisco and Oakland.

Except that the trip across the bay didn’t take 10 minutes. It only took five minutes and 52 seconds.

Just before noon, around four dozen people, including the Mayor of London Breed, were taken from the Ferry Building to the new $ 50 million terminal on Treasure Island. There, they were taken on a tour of the two new housing complexes under construction, as well as the less sexy $ 600 million infrastructure work that will allow up to 20,000 residents to eventually reside on the island. .

Bulldozers lay out streets, sidewalks and lampposts. Three new water reservoirs, connected to water sources in San Francisco and Oakland, hold 5.3 million cubic gallons. There is a new departure station and a sewage treatment plant.

The first residents to move into the new homes on Treasure Island – some of the former Navy barracks have been living there for just over two decades – will arrive next year.

January will mark the opening of the Bristol, a 124-condo complex that straddles a hill on Yerba Buena Island, the craggy rock outcrop that is connected to Treasure Island by a short causeway. Then, in March, the Chinatown Community Development Center and Swords to Plowshares will open Maceo May, a 104-apartment affordable housing building that will be widely available for homeless veterans.

“It’s a special building on a special island with a population that deserves this kind of housing and service,” said Malcolm Yeung, director of the CDC in Chinatown.

Development continues on Treasure Island on Wednesday, but the changes will become noticeable in the new year as a new ferry service will transport residents to San Francisco.

Yalonda M. James / The Chronicle

Once this building is populated, the pace of development will pick up quickly, according to Chris Meany of Wilson Meany, the island’s lead developer. By spring, Meany’s group will begin work on Tidal House, an average height of 249 houses on the plot closest to the ferry terminal. And the next affordable housing building, 138 units under construction by Catholic Charities and Mercy Housing, will also be under construction.

“People are struggling with the magnitude of this,” Meany said. “It will be a whole new neighborhood within the city.”

Of the 10 plots that are expected to be developed in Unit 1 800, the first phase of the project, eight of them are in the construction drawing phase and are expected to be under construction over the next three years, Meany said.

Now that vertical development has begun, the entire 8,000-unit neighborhood – with a hotel, shops and parks – will explode “in the blink of an eye – if the blink of an eye is 10 to 15 years old. “, did he declare.

“We’ve been rocking the earth for a while and once things start to get vertical it’s going to go pretty fast,” said Bob Beck, director of the Treasure Island Development Authority.

Meanwhile, the ferry is being tested and will begin transporting the public in January. There will be 17 trips per day and it will cost $ 5. For the first few years, the ferry will be a 48-passenger aluminum boat specifically built for the bay that goes at 40 miles per hour. It will be operated by Prop SF. Once service is established, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority will take over with the 100-passenger ferries.

For London Breed, the trip to Treasure Island on Wednesday was not just about infrastructure, but memories. Breed had spent several years in her early twenties working on the island and living there with a group of friends in a four bedroom house at 1305A Gateview, which she visited after the group tour.

Standing outside her old house, she reflected on her first post-graduate job with the Treasure Island Redevelopment Authority. She was making $ 28,000 a year and the rent was cheap – about $ 2,000 for four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“We had a great time – there was always a party,” she said. “We had a backyard, so there were always barbecues. We were just out of college. We didn’t care. We were happy to be alone. “

Watching the early stages of the development of an island that, if successful, will one day become a self-sufficient micro-town in the bay, has helped her prepare to lead the town, she said.

“I was the office manager, the committee secretary, the planning specialist, the plumber, the gardener. We have had weddings here and sometimes I helped the caterer prepare the food, ”she said. “It was my first crash course in municipal government. “

JK Dineen is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @sfjkdineen


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