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UncategorizedWill a high-end shopping mall benefit Bayview Hunters Point?

Will a high-end shopping mall benefit Bayview Hunters Point?

Shopping mall developer Randy Brant and Lennar Urban president Kofi Bonner talk up Gucci at Candlestick
Shopping mall developer Randy Brant and Lennar Urban president Kofi Bonner talk up Gucci at Candlestick

By Tim Redmond

NOVEMBER 18, 2014 — The next stage of the redevelopment of  Hunters Point Bayview was on display  today in a sunny, almost wind-free Candlestick parking lot – and Kofi Bonner, the head of developer Lennar Urban, put it this way:

“I see shopping in everyone’s future.”

Bonner and Randy Brant, executive vice president of the mall developer Macerich, were there to announce that the old stadium would be replaced with a high-end shopping mall featuring the likes of Gucci and Armani.

The mall, with 130 stores, would be the centerpiece of Lennar’s ambitious plans to build 6,000 housing units at Candlestick Point, with 32 percent of them available at below-market rate.

Rev. Aurelious Walker, pastor of the True Hope Church of God, said the image of the neighborhood as a “poor, crime-ridden community” would be “totally obliterated” by the development.

Or, as Bonner put it, “we will create an environment very similar to what other San Franciscans enjoy.”

A mockup of the mall that will likely feature high-end retail (and minimum-wage jobs)
A mockup of the mall that will likely feature high-end retail (and minimum-wage jobs)

That’s a lot to put on a shopping mall, particularly one that is expected to draw its customers from the entire city and region, not just (or even primarily) from Bayview Hunters Point. A new supermarket (badly needed in the area) will serve the community, but Bonner told me that “most malls don’t rely on the area within one mile” for a customer base.

There will be 2,400 underground parking spaces.

Of course, the mall is only a part of the project at Candlestick and the old shipyard that will eventually total 12,000 housing units. The first few have already been built and sold, Bonner said, and 60 percent of the buyers were San Francisco residents.

“It’s a diverse group, first-time homebuyers, local people, some tech people,” he said.

The new market-rate units sell for between $500,000 and $1 million, he said. BMR units will sell for about $250,000.

Lee and Bonner both repeated the mayor’s political mantra – jobs, jobs, jobs. The Candlestick project – which will also include an entertainment center and restaurant village — will create some 3,000 permanent jobs, they said.

There’s a lot of BMR housing in this mix, more than we’re seeing anywhere else in the city. It’s about half of what’s needed, and is just barely in line with the affordable housing measure, Prop. K, that the mayor supported and the voters approved.

Prop. K says that 33 percent of all new housing should be BMR.

Mayor Lee says that 3,000 new jobs at the mall will help prevent displacement
Mayor Lee says that 3,000 new jobs at the mall will help prevent displacement

I asked the mayor if he thought that retail jobs – not known for high wages – would pay enough to allow the workers to afford to live in San Francisco. “We just passed the highest minimum wage in the country,” he said. By the time the stores open, he noted, employers will be required to pay $15 an hour.

That is, indeed, higher than most places. The cost of housing here is also vastly higher than most places. And if my math is right, $15 an hour for a 40-hour week is a little more than $30,000 a year.

Under federal guidelines, a person making $30,000 a year should pay about $10,000 a year for housing, or $800 a month. Assume two people working those jobs share a unit, and you’ve got about $1,600 a month for rent.

The lowest market-rate unit, at $500,000, would require a monthly payment of $2,541, according to the online mortgage-rate calculator I checked, and that’s based on a rock-bottom interest rate of 3.5 percent. At a more likely 4 percent, it’s $2,669 a month.

And since many of these units are condos, there will also be homeowners association fees that amount to hundreds of dollars a month.

So a retail worker at the new mall will earn a little more than half what’s needed to buy the cheapest market-rate housing unit Lennar is planning to build. And that’s if the market-rate stays at the $500,000 level, which at this point is just a projection.

Lennar and Macerich have committed to a local-hire policy that will seek to employ half of the new workers from the city. That means 1,500 local jobs, many of them paying minimum wage, as is common in retail.

There will be about 1,800 BMR units in the complex.

Now: If my experience with shopping malls runs true to this new one, many of the workers will be young people who still live with their parents and are working to get through school. That’s a great thing and will be an immense help to those kids and their families. It will make it possible for some to pay for City College or SF State. That’s a huge deal. Youth unemployment is a major problem.

But it may not do as much for the adult unemployment problem, particularly since adults with families can’t possibly afford to live in this city on retail wages.

Of course, you can’t build this kind of a project without a large number of construction jobs, which pay pretty well – and if half of those are truly local hire (which has been very difficult to enforce in the past, since the construction unions operate by seniority) then the building process itself will benefit the community. As long as it lasts.

There was much talk at the press conference about how the new mall will cause housing values in the area to increase, which is great for homeowners who suffer from predatory loans and may be underwater right now. It is, however, always risky business, particularly in a city where displacement is rampant.

So I asked the mayor: If, as Kofi Bonner says, this is going to bring Bayview Hunters Point into line economically with the rest of the city – where housing prices and evictions are forcing thousands or working-class people to leave – what’s to prevent more displacement?

“We have some good strong programs,” he said. “Community stabilization programs. The local hire is very important – you have to have the income and the opportunities for displacement to be lessened.”

The city will get sales tax money. The developers expect to make out well, or they  wouldn’t be doing this. There may be some locally owned businesses in the mall, but most of the tenants will be national chains – and the money you spend at Gucci leaves town that night.

It was all hype and excitement today. But I’m waiting to see how the numbers really add up.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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33 COMMENTS

  1. I am born and raised here. Most of the people I grew up with also born and raised here think the same. So we didn’t move here. All the fake liberals moved here. Probably you are one of them.

  2. The locals will be breaking into Foot Locker like they always do. Dumb ignorant people looking for an excuse to loot.

  3. Ah yes, Joseph, that day when the great unwashed rise up against their masters, employers and landlords.

    It will happen soon, I feel sure. any day now.

  4. Hey, Joseph, you surely wouldn’t begrudge me some light-hearted, warm-spirited, good-natured satire about your oh-so-adorable vision of a community wearing flowers and singing kumbaya, would you?

    But all cynicism aside, if you promised me that every hippie liberal boomer would move there and leave the rest of the city to the rest of us, I might support your idea.

  5. Actually, an artisanal heirloom truffle farm would be a good idea. As would “several” light manufacturing facilities making any of a 100 items presently made by slave labor over-seas. A housing cooperative would be nice; a couple of huge community garden/farms, a recreation center, family entertainment center, wellness/health clinic, community laundry and kitchen, and a dry goods store. A more or less autonomous, sustainable, solar/wind powered community composed of the people currently being displaced by rampant greed, speculation, graft, corruption, and cronyism.

  6. You’re correct, it is a outlet mall.

    Tim Redmond obviously needed to leave out that part and instead refer to it “as a high-end shopping mall featuring the likes of Gucci and Armani” to maximize the “us vs them” factor he needs.

    But the real journalists that covered the story all mentioned that it was an outlet mall (albeit nowadays it is entirely possible that Gucci and/or Armani will indeed be among the 150+ outlets)

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lennar-plans-outlet-mall-to-replace-candlestick-park-in-san-francisco-2014-11-17

  7. The hope is that by the time this is finished, Hunters Point will no longer have the negative and unfortunate connotation it has at present.

    After all, it is prime waterfront property and yet is currently a no go area.

  8. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the plans were for an “outlet mall”, rather than a Santana row-type upscale mall.

  9. What is the alternative proposal being put forth which is viable? Anyone? An artisanal thimble factory and heirloom truffle collective? A community safe space featuring an all white African dance troupe once a month?

  10. in my anything but humble opinion there is no “seems” when comes to the nonexistent imagination of our bought and sold representatives. Our D 10 representative seems to believe that the poor are a blight on our city. The only vision that our representatives have is self-interest and money. Nonetheless the constituency of our city seem to like the status quo and reelected its most staunch supporters. Oh well.

  11. If 75% BMR were mandated, nothing would get built. This project exceeds the Mayor’s ambitious target so there really cannot be any complaint.

    A target is a desired goal – not a mandate.

  12. The Candlestick site is not all that toxic (unlike The Shipyard). So development here should be relatively straightforward. However, we are trading the public Candlestick arena for private housing, and some commercial endeavors.

    The City fails when it turns to a single developer to do this thing. Better results would be for one entity to do remediation and development (sewers, streets, parks, school sites), and let other small developers add their ingenuity and creative (and diversity) to creating a new neighborhood.

    I remember when Chris Daly was negotiating the Rincon Hill towers. Its a given that developers will walk away from any project that doesn’t guarantee at least a 30% profit margin. So, is it better to direct that kind of opportunity to large corporations or smaller individual and group efforts?

  13. “If you don’t do what we want you will continue to live in the poverty that only we have the power to change.”

    I would say that this is the key to understanding all of human history. Those who conform to social norms and prove themselves useful to the group do much better than those who do not. Understandably so.

  14. We need stores that sell luxury items if and only if there is a demand for such items. Otherwise such stores will not be viable. Businesses arise because of organic need and not because some central soviet committee of bureaucrats has planned our retail landscape as if it were a vast socialist game.

    The way we know which stores are needed is to follow the money, because that represents the sum total of demand by the people. And if you do not like, want or need luxury items then the solution is simple. Don’t shop in those stores. Stores open and close all the time – it’s no big deal.

    The fact that these retail jobs won’t enable someone to buy a brand new condo in SF is hardly a shock to anyone. But most of those jobs go to kids, are part-time, or provide a second or third income in a family. There is a place for that.

    And of course not everyone who will work in this mall has to live in SF, particularly given its location just this side of the city line.

  15. lets stop the anti-union silliness here. the fundamental fact about the construction is that workers go to where the work is- that’s why they’re called journeymen.

    yes, the project will likely be built using union labor. that’s an unvarnished good. the various trades all have ongoing relationships with the city to bring in young people into apprenticeship training programs that allow them to both earn a good living with benefits and acquire new skills to become journey level workers.

    the only thing that works on “seniority” basis is the hiring hall when you’re on an out of work list. a number of trades also allow their signatory contractors to rehire former employees and direct hire through requests. apprentices are on their own lists.

    bottom line, this project will provide opportunities to hundreds of entry level workers who want to get into sustainable construction careers as well years of work for thousands of journeymen and women. while there may be legitimate questions about the development program and affordability levels the attacks on the construction workforce and unions is both ignorant and misguided.

  16. In order to meet the Prop K affordable housing guidelines (too low, in my opinion), the percentage of below market units built on public land must be much higher, something like 25% market, 75% below market.

    How can 10% to 12% BMR development on private land and 32% on public land add up to 30% overall? It can’t and it won’t.

    Mayor Lee will massage the numbers by counting the renovation (and overall reduction of the most deeply affordable) public housing units as new affordable units and claim victory as his policies displace poor and working class San Franciscans.

    Profits for Lennar; that’s the policy priority.

  17. This will explain what parcels of land are affected from WWII wartime usage

    http://yosemite.epa.gov/r9/sfund/r9sfdocw.nsf/vwsoalphabetic/Hunters+Point+Naval+Shipyard?OpenDocument

    Here’s the highlights from 2012

    The investigation and cleanup of contamination at the Shipyard is a multi-phase project that has been on-going for more than 20 years. Investigations and testing of soil and groundwater at the Shipyard are targeted at known industrial operational areas and where Navy records indicate a known or potential release of hazardous substances. While these investigations are ongoing, the Navy has carried out dozens of early cleanup actions across the Shipyard to address known soil and groundwater contamination. All cleanup work has been under the approval and review of the regulatory team. As of mid-2012, these early cleanup actions have resulted in the following:

    · 20,000 dump trucks of chemical contaminated soil removed from the Shipyard

    · 4,000 dump trucks of radiological contaminated soil removed from the Shipyard

    · 20,000 dump trucks of clean fill imported to the Shipyard, and

    · 23 miles of sewer and storm drain pipelines removed.

  18. Obviously, even the BMU’s are not intended for minimum wage employees. They are intended for middle class people who have been priced out of the current market–social workers, teachers, store managers. It is unrealistic to expect that such developments can address affordable housing for those who work for minimum wage. In reality, they don’t aspire to do that. So does Bayview benefit? Probably not much, especially since current locals will probably be anathema at Gucci.
    My question is why do we need another mall selling luxury crap? Seems like a total lack of imagination for the redevelopment–but that is Ed Lee’s “vision.”

  19. “how is a poor person that has informal construction skills but not unionized able to get a break? ”

    Ding! Ding! Ding! – We have a winner in observational category of the shit poor legacy of Willie and Amos Brown and the blind neoliberalism that infects San Francisco today.

    Food for thought:

    Why should a construction project like rebuilding projects from the 1940s into acceptable housing for 2014 be delayed and contingent upon achieving the correct percentage of workers from the group of inhabitants !!of said project!! by their social, economic and racial group?

    In a small population of people is it ok to assume that construction work is the “best” that they can aspire to?

    The message is clear – If you don’t do what we want you will continue to live in the poverty that only we have the power to change.

    1 – please ask Malia Cohen how she plans to address these issues because she has failed so far.

  20. 2 points.

    1- expecting for a minimum wage worker to be able to buy even a starter house in SF is highly unrealistic. When do you think that was ever possible? In the 1950’s or 60’s? Ever?

    2- WRT construction jobs for this project, I’m sure they have to be union workers. So, how is a poor person that has informal construction skills but not unionized able to get a break? I don’t think this project could help them. In that respect unions cause segregation, and often disadvantage the poor.

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