Blacks priced out of San Francisco neigh­bor­hood as de­vel­op­ers move in.

Bayview-Hun­ters Point: Eq­uity and de­vel­op­ment rise

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Janie Har

san francisco » Tired of pay­ing nearly $4,000 a month for a one-bed­roomin San Francisco’s pop­u­lar South of Mar­ket dis­trict, two new­ly­weds last year bought a town­house in a bud­ding de­vel­op­ment along the city’s rough-edged south­east­ern bay-front.

Friends warned Eyite­ju­made and Jinglin Sogbe­san that the his­tor­i­cally black Bayview-Hun­ters Point­was a dan­ger­ous place. But Eyite­ju­made Sogbe­san, 39, a na­tive of Nige­ria and for­mer in­vest­ment banker, ig­nored them.

A $500,000 two-bed­room with park­ing seemed a bar­gain in a city wher­e­mod­est homes fetch $1 mil­lion.

As San Francisco rides a mas­sive build­ing boom rem­i­nis­cent of post-World War II, fu­eled largely by growth in tech-based jobs, de­vel­op­ers are fi­nally wad­ing into a part of the city long plagued by too much poverty and not enough fresh pro­duce mar­kets.

But as mod­ern dwellings crop up, there are fears that the city’s dwin­dling pop­u­la­tion of blacks will not be able to af­ford the neigh­bor­hood that writer James Bald­win once called “the San Fran­cis­coAmer­ica pre­tends does not ex­ist.”

“I love this place. This is really home,” said Dwight Brown, a jobs ac­tivist who lives on Third Street, a run­down com­mer­cial strip. “But the writ­ing on thewall was they’re tak­ing it away from us.”

As San Francisco’s pop­u­la­tion climbed to an es­ti­mated 860,000 this year, the num­ber of blacks has plum­meted from 100,000 in 1970 to fewer than half that to­day.

Blacks, who made up a third of Bayview-Hun­ters Point res­i­dents in 2010, are be­ing priced out or have sold their property, trad­ing ris­ing eq­uity in their homes for qui­eter lives in the sub­urbs.

City lead­ers say the new de­vel­op­ment should help pre­serve the city’s black com­mu­nity. As ev­i­dence, they point to plans for new se­nior and pub­lic hous­ing, as well as re­cent leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing that 40 per­cent of new af­ford­able units go to res­i­dents.

“Peo­ple heard so many dif­fer­ent prom­ises for years, and now they lit­er­ally see the man­i­fes­ta­tion of years of ad­vo­cacy and­work and dis­ap­point­ment. This is for you,” said San Francisco Su­per­vi­sor Malia Cohen, whose great-aunts once lived in a city hous­ing project.

Bayview-Hun­ters Point is one of the last ma­jor fron­tiers for San Francisco de­vel­op­ment, en­com­pass­ing more than a square mile of un­de­vel­oped land in a cramped city of 49 square miles.

The neigh­bor­hood is per­haps best know­nas home of Can­dle­stick Park, where the Gi­ants and 49ers played for decades be­fore mov­ing to new venues. But the area has a rich history.

Once called Butcher­town for the slaugh­ter­houses of yes­ter­year, Bayview-Hun­ters Point has long served as a place of pi­o­neers, in­clud­ing Ital­ians and Mal­tese — and af­ter World War II, thou­sands of blacks who left the South for jobs at the naval ship­yard.

There was a thriv­ing blue-col­lar mid­dle class. But when the ship­yard closed in 1974, work dried up and gangs came to rule, es­pe­cially in its pub­lic hous­ing projects.

Len­nar Ur­ban plans to con­struct 12,000 hous­ing units on the sites of the for­mer ship­yard and now-de­mol­ished Can­dle­stick Park, nearly dou­bling the pop­u­la­tion of 35,000. There are plans for a lux­ury shop­ping cen­ter at the old park and for re­build­ing the dreary 1963 Alice Grif­fith hous­ing project.

“We need a change,” said res­i­dent Robin Robin­son. “If peo­ple are liv­ing a lit­tle bit bet­ter, maybe they’ll feel a lit­tle bet­ter.”

Eyite­ju­made Sogbe­san, the new­comer, said buy­ing a home in one of the most ex­pen­sive cities in the coun­try is good for his fam­ily.

Shaun Brit­ton does a bi­cy­cle trick in the BayviewHun­ters Point dis­trict in San Francisco.

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