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In Search of Sanity
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Treasure Island proposal cuts tower down to size
John King, Chronicle Urban Design Critic
Sunday, February 20, 2011

The ambitious plans for San Francisco's Treasure Island have been inching their way through City Hall for so long, it's hard to believe the final round of hearings has arrived.

And here's a signal the endgame has begun: the tallest tower's potential height is being lowered by 200 feet.

The vision still includes pollution-absorbing wetlands, a working farm, a new ferry terminal and as many as 8,000 housing units - all on 404 acres summoned into existence barely 70 years ago.

But by toning down the skyline of the new neighborhood, proponents are acknowledging something that should have been obvious all along: even a project billed as "an international exemplar of sustainable development" should know its place.

The development proposal for the former Navy base concentrates housing in an L-shaped band along the island's west and south sides, placing most residents within a 10-minute walk of the planned ferry terminal. Another 230 acres would be converted into a variety of parks and semi-natural spaces.

Many of the residential units will be in buildings below 85 feet in height. But the plan adds the vertical flourish of a quartet of towers that would rise near the handful of buildings that remain from the Golden Gate International Exposition, the 1939 event for which Treasure Island was shaped from bay sand and mud alongside Yerba Buena Island.

Until last month, the plan conceived in 2005 placed a 650-foot peak in the midst of a trio of 450-foot towers. Now the central high-rise would be 450 feet, with 315-foot towers on its flanks . . . .

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San Francisco Treasure Island: the Super-Green City of the Future

Treasure Island is an artificial island in the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, and an emerging neighborhood of San Francisco.

Treasure Island is connected by a small isthmus to Yerba Buena Island. It was created in 1936 and 1937, from fill dredged from the bay, for the Golden Gate International Exposition. According to the United States Census Bureau, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island together have a land area of 2.334 km2 (0.901 sq mi) with a total population of 1,453 as of the 2000 census. The island is named after the novel Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in San Francisco from 1879 to 1880.

Treasure Island is entirely within the City and County of San Francisco, whose territory extends far into San Francisco Bay and includes a tip of Alameda Island. The 535-acre (2.17 km2) man made island is owned by the U.S. Navy.

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Treasure Island EIR

by Andrew Wietstock

In the first bit of news in a very planning-heavy news day, the Planning Department released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Treasure Island yesterday. The high points include 8,000 housing units, 140,000 square feet of new commercial and retail space, up to 100,000 square feet of new office space, adaptive reuse of 311,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and flex space, roughly 500 hotel rooms, new and upgraded public and community facilities, 300 acres of new parks and public spaces, waterside facilities for the Treasure Island Sailing Center, and a new Ferry Terminal. The Planning Department expects full build-out over the next 15 to 20 years.

At four volumes, this should all make for some riveting light reading. Public comment will be accepted until August 26, with a public hearing scheduled for August 12.

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Treasure Island Redevelopment Continues to Moves Forward

by Sally Kuchar

Yesterday the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee approved the $1.5 billion project to transform Treasure Island. The plan calls for 8,000 housing units, 140,000 square feet of new commercial and retail space, up to 100,000 square feet of new office space, adaptive reuse of 311,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and flex space, roughly 500 hotel rooms, new and upgraded public and community facilities, 300 acres of new parks and public spaces, waterside facilities for the Treasure Island Sailing Center, and a new Ferry Terminal. The board's budget finance committee will hold a hearing on May 11 to look over the plan's financial agreements. The full board is expected to vote on the proposal on May 17.


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If a green utopia on Treasure Island sounds far-fetched, dreamers have a plan

By John King - San Francisco Chronicle - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Right now, San Francisco has a rare chance to do something that's historic and audacious: create the world's first green urban neighborhood on our very own Treasure Island.

Instead of a windswept former naval base with poor access to the Bay Bridge, 403 human-made acres could be a community where 20,000 people live mostly automobile-free lives. Energy would be generated by windmills; shops and parks would be within walking distance. Downtown San Francisco would be a 10-minute ferry ride away.

Far-fetched? Absolutely, and a long shot as well. There's a developer in place, but there also are state regulations and well-intentioned constraints at every turn.

But if ever there were a time to dream, it's this week, when San Francisco plays host to the World Environment Conference, and the notion of green cities is high on the agenda. On Treasure Island, environmentalism and urbanism could fuse as never before -- a vibrant community that creates its own energy, treats its own waste and has a transit system so convenient that cars are superfluous.

And before you blanch at the thought of 20,000 or more people living where 1,400 now reside, consider this: Environmental activists are the ones pushing us all to think big.

"There's the opportunity and the necessity to develop Treasure Island in a way that exemplifies the idea of sustainable development," says Eve Bach of Arc Ecology, a San Francisco environmental group. "To support the kinds of services you need on an island requires a lot of people."

That's a far cry from the plan that has evolved in procedural fits and starts over the past decade.

The current scenario calls for 2,600 housing units in four new neighborhoods, with 200 more tucked into the wooded natural hills of Yerba Buena Island to the south. There'd be attached homes modeled on traditional San Francisco neighborhoods, modest towers near a new ferry terminal on the island's southeastern cove, even an "eco-village" with community gardens looking toward Berkeley.

As for open space, start with a 350-foot-wide park facing San Francisco and a 250-foot-wide counterpart looking toward the East Bay. Add ball fields as part of a recreational strip in the middle of the island. The finale: Treasure Island's northern 72 acres would be a "nature park" with ponds and wetlands to help treat the island's storm water as well as provide natural habitat.

Plus -- to pay for the above -- there'd be hotels and conference space and boutique shopping near the cove.

"Here's an incredible opportunity to present something of respite to the Bay Area -- parks and wetlands -- but also a place of vitality and life," says Karen Alschuler, a principal at SMWM, the planning firm working for Treasure Island Community Development, the developer selected by the city to convert the former naval base.

Give Alschuler and her team credit: It's a good plan as far as it goes, especially the efforts to make the open space a functioning part of the larger environment.

But it's not the stuff dreams are made of.

That's because every line of every drawing is shaded by pragmatic and political considerations. The cap on housing comes from a citizen advisory group that concluded work in 1996, the year before the U.S. Navy closed its base. The wide bands of parkland along the shore are a dictate of the State Lands Commission, which controls what is done on filled land along the bay.

There's also a chunk in the middle of the island that's off-limits to any change at all because it houses the Job Corps Center, a federal program that trains at-risk youth in fields such as restaurant work and the building trades.

Navigating all this favors endurance, not imagination. Developers study the checklist -- such as a legal agreement with the Board of Supervisors that could come this fall -- and steer clear of anything bold that might raise a red flag to potential opponents.

But sometimes bold is what's called for -- perhaps right here and perhaps right now.

What could be is glimpsed in a set of visions crafted by urban design students last semester at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design. Professor Elizabeth Macdonald led six teams through a study of Treasure Island, and then had them draw up plans for a community shaped by "ecologically responsible approaches to transportation, energy, water and waste disposal issues."

"There's timeliness -- decisions are being made that will be set in stone," Macdonald says. "Treasure Island offers a great opportunity to really create a showcase."

While the student plans differ in specifics, certain themes are as pervasive as the island's stiff afternoon winds.

Some feature lines of windmills to capture those gusts and put them to use. Most move the ferry terminal so that it faces downtown San Francisco; visibility is priceless. Street surfaces are designed to filter runoff into the ground, not into sewers.

More dramatically, the housing units don't include parking. Cars are kept off most of the island, allowing for narrow streets used by bicycles and the island's own shuttle system.

And here's the grand counterintuitive leap: The student schemes call for a population much larger than the 7,000 residents now envisioned. Not to give the developer a windfall, but to make everything else work.

Ferries and shuttles, for instance. Developers promise to make them convenient, but it's hard to build frequent service around day-trippers and a small population scattered across the island.

Or what about a place to shop? The official plan calls for a cluster of shops and residents in what it dubs Ferry Plaza Village. But that's at the southeast end of the island away from most of the residents -- and the development team concedes that the approved population isn't large enough to attract neighborhood-focused retailers.

"Once you start thinking about a car-free island, you start thinking about types of places that are needed so people don't need to leave -- a serious grocery store, for instance," Macdonald says.

Push the imagination further. If Treasure Island has the systems in place to handle its own energy, its own water and its own waste, suddenly a job corps there makes sense. Corps members could learn to operate the green infrastructure -- a possible ticket to more lucrative jobs than, say, learning how to prepare salads.

One official who has seen the student work is Mark Palmer, green building coordinator for the city's Department of the Environment. He's intrigued.

"The island really does need to have a density to support all the lifestyle features we'd like," Palmer says. "I hope we have an opportunity to reopen the density and population discussion, because it deserves another look. "

Yes, all this has a utopian glow. It can also be sniped at from a dozen directions. Won't the ferries cause pollution? Won't the windmills kill birds? Why not make the whole island a park?

Even this starry-eyed columnist is skeptical that an auto-free island could exist. It's hard to imagine thousands of households comfortable with the notion that a car is something you rent every month or two for a getaway to Big Sur.

But one thing I know for certain: The only credible way to ask people to give up automotive convenience is to surround them with everything they want.

Such as a good supermarket. Movie theaters. More than one restaurant to choose from when you don't feel like cooking after a day at work. All knit together so tightly that it's an enticing alternative to any big-city neighborhood you can name.

Arc Ecology's Bach, for instance, outlines a scenario where neighborhood life revolves around the link to the mainland.

"Imagine if the ferry terminal became the place to pick up mail, like the post office in Carmel," Bach says. "The place where you buy groceries, where you locate the drop-in childcare, where there's space for community activities ... you can build in all of these things."

Indeed you can. All you have to do is dream.

A plan crafted by UC Berkeley students shows a cluster of windmills on the island. Illustration by Justin Doull, Aditi Rao and Jeff Williams

A Treasure Island Community Development plan shows a central greensward, with a view of San Francisco. Illustration by Chris Grubbs courtesy of SMWM

Chronicle Graphic based on an illustration done by Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture.

An island of treasures

Redevelopment plans for Treasure Island include 2,600 housing units, extensive open space, preservation of several former naval buildings and a visitor-oriented commercial district with hotels along the island's southern shore. While details of the plan are likely to be revised further at a community workshop on June 14, below is the current version.

Eco-village: 475 housing units, including lofts, would be designed on so- called green building principles around a central garden.

Westside Park: This low-rise neighborhood would contain 607 townhouses and flats in what developers call a "typical San Francisco fabric."

Cityside: These 646 units line up to face spectacular views of San Francisco, with the possibility of one or two mid-rise towers.

Clipper Cove: Another 646 units would be clustered near the proposed ferry terminal and might include the island's tallest buildings.

Ferry Landing Village: This area could include hotels, a conference center, and shopping areas similar to Fourth Street in Berkeley, along with a 400-slip marina.

North shore: This large open space would include wetlands that double as part of the island's water reclamation system.

Source: Treasure Island Community Development, LLC.

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It's got high-rises, it's got organic gardens and it just might be a model for cities everywhere

John King
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Whether or not it ever gets built, the most intriguing development proposal in America right now involves our very own Treasure Island.

It's got organic gardens and a 60-story tower, wind farms and glitzy hotels. Restaurants beckon beneath an enormous glass roof that doubles as a solar panel. You don't need a car because everything essential is within walking distance, including a ferry straight to downtown San Francisco.

And here's the most intriguing thing of all: This urban utopia is being pushed by one of the largest developers in the United States.

That's why I hope that as San Francisco examines what Lennar Corp. says it wants to do with this 393-acre artificial island from the 1930s, cynicism doesn't totally cloud the fact that we're being shown an unprecedented vision of urban growth -- one crafted in response to the Bay Area's odd blend of urbanity and environmentalism.

Yes, the revised plan trotted out last month -- followed by models and polished images this week -- packs an intense amount of development onto an island that few outsiders have visited since the Golden Gate International Exposition of the late '30s.

There'd be as many as 5,500 housing units on an island that now has 750 apartments built by the U.S. Navy before it closed a base there in 1997. There would be two hotels, a conference center and a commercial district near a proposed ferry terminal sliced into the west side of the island.

There also will be five residential towers near the ferry. The model includes a central high-rise twisting 60 stories into the air, though Anthony Flanagan, president of Lennar's urban division, stresses that everything being shown is conceptual: "What we're trying to define is the character of the community, not the specific architecture."

So far, this is pretty much what you'd expect from a developer involved in five other base conversions across the country, including Mare Island in Vallejo and San Francisco's Hunters Point Shipyard.

But look at the project's green wrapping.

The northeastern half of the island is treated, in the plan, as a landscaped world apart, a 120-acre swath with ball fields and marshes as well as conventional parkland and 20 acres reserved for organic farming.

The scheme has wind turbines along the shore, and streets mapped to deflect that wind. Towers would come with photovoltaic panels to generate electricity for the island; so would a glass canopy atop the open-air retail zone near the ferry.

Most ambitious of all, 90 percent of the housing is clustered within a 10-minute walk to the ferry. Developers would be required to subsidize ferry service from the day the units open -- say 2009 in the most optimistic scenario -- so that new residents wouldn't feel they need to own a car that can't force its way onto the Bay Bridge during rush hour anyway.

Why push sustainable notions to such an extent? Because Lennar and co-developer Kenwood Investments finally realized where they are.

The Bay Area is a region where many of us think we can have it all -- scenery to rival Yosemite and neighborhoods that make New York seem dull. Food grown by nearby farmers, and urban culture at its most cutting edge.

With that parochial perspective comes a sense of entitlement that says if developers want to do business here, they'd better pay attention to what we want. In this case, "we" are the environmental advocates and planning watchdogs who have spent years saying a site this unique deserves a unique future.

And they're absolutely right. If large-scale growth is allowed to replace the remnants of the military base that closed in 1997, it had better be special. Otherwise, let the island's 20 million cubic feet of black sand filter back into the bay from whence it came.

What Lennar and Kenwood sought to build until last month wasn't special at all; it was quasi-suburbia. It was fashioned to win approval by avoiding controversy, but it had no spark.

The new approach is a profound change, especially the $20 million ferry terminal: Lennar first wanted to use an existing pier that faces Oakland. And the shift in the development approach is a tribute to critics who lobbied for a better plan, rather than simply saying no.

None of which means that what is on the table should now be rubber-stamped.

Here are two examples of things that need to be looked at more. Seismic issues can't be glossed over, certainly if high-rise condos are supposed to be attached to submerged bedrock closest to Yerba Buena Island. And even if towers make sense, consider this: The central high-rise would be taller than the nearby towers of the Bay Bridge. Aesthetic rationale aside, should a private enclave take precedence over public monuments?

The new Treasure Island proposals need intense scrutiny during the next few months as more details are released, and before San Francisco's Board of Supervisors votes on whether to endorse the broad outlines of the plan. It might turn out that this shining Xanadu is pie in the sky.

But what we have now is a starting point, a fascinating attempt to strike a balance between environmental principles and big-city life. If the Bay Area can find a way to make it work, the entire nation will pay attention.

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Is the multilayered development plan for Treasure Island a vision for ecotopia or a pipe dream?
- Sam Whiting
Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Treasure Island Chapel has no congregation so there won't be a displacement when the church is underwater.

In the new and improved model for the redundant Navy base, the ground underfoot will be notched out so a ferry can come right through the Avenue of the Palms, the church parking lot and garden, and dock up against what is now Avenue B. In the morning, after a 10-minute float, San Franciscans will debark for a day in the new regional park while organic farmers whistle off to work the back 40. In the evening, thousands of new Treasure Islanders will debark into a retail plaza and meander home along paths to a series of nine neighborhood parks running parallel to the Great Lawn along the western shore.

Each neighborhood will be defined by a low residential tower, between 15 and 18 stories. There will be some affordable housing among the 5,500 units, and, of course, much more of the unaffordable kind, most prominently in the skinny, twisty 60-story condo tower that will stand and sway just to the north of the historic crescent-shaped Administration Building.

"The idea is to make at least one tower, just like Venice, that marks the arrival point for the ferry, sort of, like a campanile," says architect Craig Hartman, whose campanile will be twice the height of that other Campanile, the nonresidential one over in Berkeley.

The shimmering new 600-foot campanile doesn't yet have a name. But it ought to be called the Sun Tower for two reasons. One, it will be built of glass embedded with photovoltaics facing south to capture solar power. Two, it is designed to evoke the pointy 400-foot Tower of the Sun from the Golden Gate International Exposition held here in 1939.

Built specifically for that purpose, as a New Deal make-work project, the island is essentially a 400-acre sand box. A rectangular rock seawall was filled with sand and gravel dredged from the bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, according to the city government Web site. The name Treasure Island comes from the assumption that there was gold in the dredgings.

Seventy-seven years later, speculators are still searching for the gold on Treasure Island. Three years ago the Treasure Island Development Authority, a state redevelopment agency that oversees the property, selected the Treasure Island Community Development, a partnership of investors, to come up with a plan. A year ago the consortium hired Hartman, 56, a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. His notable contributions to the San Francisco skyline are the 30-story 101 Second Street office tower and the 42-story St. Regis Museum Tower next to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

A downtown tower is, of course, necessitated by the lack of horizontal building space. Treasure Island will be nothing but horizontal building space. The three historic structures at the entrance -- the Pan Am Clipper terminal and the two seaplane hangars behind it -- will remain. The sprawl of Navy housing, school, theater, bowling alley, gymnasium and all the other boarded-up Dust Bowl detritus will be "deconstructed," meaning scraped and recycled. And that is how they will leave it.

Hartman's plan is to manufacture density by going vertical. Cram all the people onto one-quarter of the island and turn the other 300 acres into parkland, marshland, farmland. It will be a mini Chicago -- a flat place on the water with Modernist skyscrapers shooting up from the crops.

"The practical thing is to use height to make it less consumptive of land and to make it dense and focused to the ferry terminal," Hartman says.

The vast north and east shores will be open space surrounding a 20-acre organic farm where produce for the island's restaurants and markets will be grown. "It's not really meant to be a commercial enterprise," Hartman says. "It will grow enough greens to supply 2,000 people." With what? "It depends on how much salad you eat."

There will be no industry on the island unless the people who live in the tower condominiums happen to be farmers, descending from the 60th floor in overalls and work boots.

Everything will be within a 10-minute walk from the new ferry terminal. That convenience alone will cost $20 million. The existing battleship pier on the east side -- part of a previous ferry plan -- is of no interest. Nobody wants to ride a ferry all the way around to the back, when the action is on the front, Hartman says.

Treasure Island is within the boundaries of the city and county of San Francisco, the point of view is that it is just another San Francisco neighborhood, no more isolated than the avenues. And a lot less isolated if the ferry runs, say, every 15 minutes on that 10-minute run from the Ferry Building to the nearest point on the island.

Cars will be de-emphasized on the island. There will be one parking slot per residential unit, but only half of those will be in the neighborhood. The others will be stored away. There won't be any boxy garages in front of houses and there won't be any curbs in pedestrian areas because there won't be any cars.

If that doesn't cure the urge to drive, there is the neck-straining, stress-inducing merge onto the Bay Bridge from the island, flooring it from the stop sign to build up enough speed to avoid a whiplashing rear-ender.

"The intent here is to make this a new national model for what a wholly sustainable community can be about," Hartman says. "It involves the land, it involves a response to the microclimate." Anybody who has stood out there in the western wind would probably rate it a "macroclimate," one more thing it has in common with Chicago. But Hartman has a plan for that. He's going to switch the entire orientation -- streets and all -- a quarter turn counterclockwise so his new neighborhood will face south instead of west and south.

"If you turn it 45 degrees, you can actually buffer the wind," Hartman says. "You open up the island to the sun and you also are blocking the wind if you arrange the buildings and landscape right."

Even if he manages to redirect the wind and direct the ferry into the west side, there is still the little problem that has been on the Bay Area collective mind the past month or so. That is the likelihood of a 100-year earthquake.

Before any infrastructure is built, the island's rock seawall will be strengthened with a system of rock piles anchored in bedrock. The low and mid-rise buildings will be anchored by conventional pilings. It gets trickier with the skyscrapers, but Uri Eliahu, president of Engeo, the geotechnical consulting firm on the project, has a simple system for that.

In order to anchor a 60-story tower, "you build a 130-story tower and pound it down into the ground," he says. Eliahu is joking, but not by much. The towers will be anchored by a system of drilled case piles just like the structural supports on the new east span of the Bay Bridge, he says.

"A hole is drilled in the sand and this steel pipe is advanced to whatever depth," he says. "All the dirt from inside the pipe is removed. All the reinforcing steel is placed into this casement."

The tallest towers will be glass wrapped with an "exo-skeleton" of X braces, like the Alcoa Building downtown, or the Sears Tower in Chicago. If a major quake hits, the towers will be standing, even if they are standing in the water. In any case, Treasure Island will be no worse off, "and probably better off," Hartman says, than the towers at Mission Bay or South Beach, or for that matter, the Skidmore office at One Front Street, on the corner of Market.

There is a scale model of the plan up on the 24th floor, and standing behind it, Hartman sees it for what it is. "This is a massive, massive project compared to anything you'll see almost anywhere else," he says, and that includes the new Beijing Finance Street he designed, with 25 buildings currently under construction.

To get a handle on a 600-foot skyscraper, it is 50 feet taller than the One Rincon Hill tower already approved to become the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi, according to estimates. If the Sun Tower goes to its full height, it will render One Rincon Hill a short-lived record holder, like Mark McGwire's 70 home runs in 1998, three seasons before Barry Bonds out-enhanced his performance with 73. "It's a creative scheme. Introducing high-rises here makes a certain amount of sense," says Dean Macris, planning director for the city and county of San Francisco. "When you have a flat piece of earth, the introduction of views improves the quality of life."

Behind the Sun Tower will be "the three sisters," about a third as tall. In all, there will be 13 to 15 towers ranging from 15 to 60 stories. The population may be 12,000, about the same as in Hartman's own commuter town of Larkspur.

"We're not attempting to build a town. This would just be a neighborhood," says Anthony Flanagan, president of the Urban Development Division of Lennar, a national home building company, which is part of the team.

Town or neighborhood. Either way, where will the buyers and renters come from?

"We're basically going to be providing different types of products that will appeal to different parts of the market," Flanagan says. "Some people may want to be on the ground, because maybe they have kids. Maybe they want a larger floor plan. Others may love high-rise living and want to have a great view of the city and would be willing to pay for that."

Flanagan also believes people will be willing to pay Four Seasons prices for a luxury hotel with a view back at the city, so it is being added to the mix. For the lower end, 15 percent of the 5,500 units will be rentals. The developers will shoulder the cost of all new infrastructure, from sewer lines on up. Flanagan won't even estimate what it will cost beyond "hundreds of millions of dollars."

If all goes perfectly, it will be under way by 2009, to honor the 80th anniversary of the world's fair. But there is a lot that can go un-perfectly, starting with the height of the Sun Tower, which may be knocked down to 400 feet, the same height as its ancestral Tower of the Sun.

No one will know for another two years, which is how long it is expected to take for the plan to reach the Board of Supervisors for final approval and permits. There is also the technicality that the land is still owned by the Navy, but that should be resolved by then, after 10 years of talking, at least two high-flying ambassadors -- Annemarie Conroy and Tony Hall -- and several shot-down concepts.

The usual naysayers haven't found too much to say nay about this incarnation. Yet. "It needs significant public vetting," says Supervisor Chris Daly, whose district includes Treasure Island. "We are past due."

Daly applauds the relocated western ferry terminal, and the open space, but laughs off the high-rise concept as "The Vancouver model, only in the middle of the bay." As for the tall skinny buildings to protect sight lines? "Aren't all the towers slender?" he asks. "It's kind of a buzz word."

Buzz-kill Daly will get his due this summer when the development plan, which is not legally binding, is expected to go before the Board of Supervisors. Public testimony will be invited.

"We're getting an entitlement, and in exchange for that entitlement, the city is getting a regional park (one-third the size of Golden Gate Park) and 30 percent of the housing will be affordable," Flanagan says. The public is also getting the missing link between the city and the bicycle lanes being built on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. From Yerba Buena Island, it's a downhill coast to the terminal and onto the ferry.

So will it ever happen? "I started working on Mission Bay in 1982 and people said, 'Is this ever going to happen?' '' responds Planning Director Macris. "It's taken 20 years."

Treasure Island developers are slightly less patient. They'd like to get it done in 10, building in phases. People living in Navy housing won't be transitioned until the land is needed. Then they will get the first crack at the 575 units of market-rate housing on the island that will be available in July 2007.

"From our perspective, it's not just the towers but the holistic vision for how the land use and urban design will create a successful project," says Jack Sylvan, Treasure Island project manager in the office of Mayor Gavin Newsom. "The public benefit that's being provided out there is the most extensive of any project that we know of in recent history."

Hartman calls it the most extensive in ancient history too, or at least "since 1907," Hartman says. "I don't think there has been anything like this, in one single piece, since the earthquake."

E-mail Sam Whiting at [email protected].

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Treasure Island makeover plan gets thumbs-up
Board of Supervisors is next hurdle for $1.2 billion proposal

- Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The city commission overseeing the former Treasure Island Naval Station approved a plan Monday to spend more than $1.2 billion to transform the 403-acre island and its smaller neighbor, Yerba Buena Island, into a self-sufficient community with 6,000 homes, a new ferry terminal and 300 acres of open space.

The seven-member Treasure Island Development Authority, appointed by the mayor, gave its support for a building blueprint that has been three years in the making.

The plan calls for nearly $500 million in private investment and $700 million in borrowing by the city through the issuance of bonds backed by property taxes collected from the island after development is completed.

The lead developer, Kenwood Investments, which is controlled by Democratic lobbyist and fundraiser Darius Anderson, is working with Miami-based home builder Lennar Corp. and local firm Wilson Meany Sullivan, which led the Port of San Francisco's Ferry Building restoration.

The developers plan to replace the former military housing and other structures with homes and retail and commercial buildings using "green" construction methods.

The developers would pay an estimated $40 million to the Navy for the decommissioned base -- part of their $500 million investment -- and would anticipate collecting $370 million in profits by completion in 2022.

The plan is scheduled to be introduced to the Board of Supervisors today and will likely be voted on by the end of the year, according to Michael Cohen, head of military base reuse projects for Mayor Gavin Newsom.

"I'm optimistic about the reception the plan will get from the Board of Supervisors because I think the development plan makes an overwhelmingly compelling case," said Cohen. "We're using private investment to create a 300-acre park in the bay and 1,800 units of below-market-rate housing without a penny from the city's general fund."

Some of the below-market housing units would be created by private developers, and the rest by nonprofit builders with backing from the city and other sources. Private builders would be required to sell or rent approximately 740 units at prices within reach of households earning at or below the median income in San Francisco -- which for a three-person household is $82,000 a year.

Renderings of the proposed new island village show a ferry terminal connected to a retail center as part of an urban core with a 40-story tower and hotels. Several residential neighborhoods would radiate from the core area and feature townhouses, flats and a 14-story residential tower.

To discourage driving on and off the island, the plan calls for most housing to be clustered within a 10-minute walk to the ferry and for a free shuttle to serve the neighborhoods. A congestion pricing scheme would levy an estimated $5 fee on motorists driving on and off the island during commute times.

Completed in 1938, the manmade Treasure Island is composed mainly of bay fill and is susceptible to earthquakes and flooding. As a result, it will require significant seismic stabilization, including a 50-foot-wide reinforced zone around the entire perimeter of the island.

Environmental contamination from the former industrial uses needs to be cleaned up, and the future neighborhood situated in the middle of the bay will need an entirely new utility and wastewater collection and treatment system.

The project must undergo a review of its impact on the environment and on traffic patterns and commerce in the area.

Moreover, as changes are made, details of a final agreement between the developers and the city remain to be negotiated and approved by the Treasure Island Development Authority, the Board of Supervisors and the mayor.

"We continue to have tremendous constraints that we will have to overcome, but our work to date shows a path of success," said Jay Wallace of Kenwood Investments. "It's a complicated project, but we have a critical path we can proceed upon to make Treasure Island a great place for future generations."


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Bending the Grid

When developers approached SOM in 2005 to refine preliminary development plans for Treasure Island, the 400-acre former Navy base located two miles across the Bay from downtown San Francisco, SOM team leader Craig Hartman recognized the opportunity to demonstrate advanced principles of design sustainability within these plans. He and his team set out to create a new kind of pedestrian-friendly, transit-based neighborhood, which balanced dense, environmentally-aware, mixed-use development with an unprecedented percentage of open space.

The effort’s overarching theme was to mobilize sustainability practices in order to take advantage of the powerful appeal of island life, breathtaking downtown views, and a physical and emotional connection to San Francisco.
According to Hartman, the ultimate goal of the year-long effort “was to exceed the expectations of San Francisco Bay residents, who are among the most environmentally aware citizens in the world.”

Initial planning reached back to embrace Treasure Island’s storied history. In the mid-1930s, the island was dredged from San Francisco Bay; debris from the region’s cataclysmic 1906 earthquake was used as fill. Originally planned as the terminus for the legendary China Clipper seaplane service, the island was chosen in 1939 as the site for the Golden Gate International Exposition. The two-year World’s Fair celebrated the completion of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, as well as the culmination of thirty years of growth that had transformed the Bay Area from a quake-ravaged disaster area into a leading international center of industry, education, and technology. The International Exposition closed in 1941, and from the Pearl Harbor attack until the mid-‘90s, Treasure Island served as an important naval facility and Navy housing site.
With a large percentage of the island’s former military housing already in civilian use, planners faced the additional imperative of staging development so that current residents could seamlessly segue into the island’s renewed life. Another pressing issue was toxic contamination resulting from Treasure Island’s six-decade use as a naval base.

SOM planners began by addressing the toxicity problem, the inherent disadvantages of the island’s often-harsh west winds and persistent fog, and the dangerous ramps on and off the Bay Bridge that limited the island’s capacity to handle auto traffic.

Submitted in early 2006, the Treasure Island Plan proposes remaking the island into a fine-grained, walkable, transit-rich San Francisco neighborhood, as well as a recognized global model for sustainable urban life and design.
The plan envisions one commercial district and four residential neighborhoods, which would enable 10-to 12-thousand residents to live in the style and density of other well-known, mixed-use San Francisco districts, such as North Beach and The Marina. Housing is designed at a density as high as 100-units per acre—enough to support ferry service while allowing the majority of the island’s acreage to be dedicated to a variety of open spaces. The plan designates these to include wetlands capable of filtering the island’s gray water, bike and hiking paths, and a large demonstration site for organic gardening.

The plan’s transportation component focuses on pedestrian and bicycle uses connecting to frequent, fast ferry service into San Francisco. To encourage residents to use water transportation, SOM situated ferry slips and a central terminal 500 feet inside the island’s western edge. By insetting the terminal, Islanders living in the four mid- and low-rise residential neighborhoods would have a maximum eight-minute walk to the ferry, followed by a 13-minute boat ride downtown.

The ferry terminal itself was relocated from the eastern flank of Treasure Island to its western, San Francisco-facing side—an alteration critical to the practical and symbolic connection of the island to downtown San Francisco. Using new technology, a unique, aerodynamically-vented glass canopy was proposed to shelter the ferry terminal and plaza from the elements. The canopy would shield pedestrians from wind and rain. During hot days, the canopy would channel air through an urban space designed to become a popular landmark of a new, yet instantly identifiable, San Francisco neighborhood.

A similar correlation with San Francisco’s unique urban style would be achieved by mandating housing of various densities and types. These would range from two-story walkups to a 40-story high-rise apartment building, and also include different housing options—apartment rentals, condominiums, houses—and price points. Thirty percent of the new housing would be designated as below market rate.

The plan’s architecture drew inspiration from the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition’s renowned ‘streamline moderne’ design themes. The new ferry terminal was capped by a slender 40-story tower referencing the Exposition’s most famous landmark—the 400-foot “Tower of the Sun” campanile. A series of smaller but similarly narrow towers, designed with sustainability in mind, would provide a recognizable urban skyline without blocking precious sunlight from reaching streets, parks, and pedestrian and bike pathways.

Along with proposing other advanced elements to make the island as self-sustaining as possible in terms of water, waste, and sewage, the SOM team also recognized the importance of addressing the island’s constant winds and fog. SOM Consulting Partner John Kriken came up with a simple, novel scheme to largely mitigate the island’s difficult weather by proposing that the developmental grid be tilted to the north and west. The grid shift would work in concert with stands of trees, berms, and buildings located on neighborhood peripheries to effectively block out winds. According to Kriken, bending the grid would allow “maximum southern solar exposure throughout the neighborhoods, achieving personal comfort as well as maximizing light.” The latter was key to the installation of photovoltaic “light-shelf” arrays in new island structures that would work in conjunction with advanced wind turbines to provide renewable power for the new community.

Currently, the Treasure Island Plan is undergoing detailed feasibility studies designed to lead to the beginning of the public approvals process. A jurisdictional disagreement between San Francisco and the State of California has left the exact usage of open space still undecided.

Richard Rapapor

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Let’s build the Treasure Island community

It seems hard to believe that after a dozen tortuous years of paperwork, hearings and compromises, nobody except a few ultrapurist ecology groups and some Telegraph Hill residents fronted by former Supervisor Aaron Peskin noticed the $5.8 billion, 8,000-home Treasure Island development had an environmental impact report that was, in their words, “inadequate and incomplete.”

But now an appeal has been filed. So creation of a new “green” 19,000-population community will not receive final approval from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. That had seemed ready to happen during a few relieved moments Wednesday after the Budget and Finance Subcommittee, without any drama, approved Treasure Island’s financial plan and sent the project for a full board vote.

The environmental report was already approved by the Planning Commission on April 21 in a contentious marathon hearing. A long line of speakers thoroughly debated the issue. Some glowingly portrayed Treasure Island’s potential to become a self-sustained ecotopia.

Others blasted the project for its last-minute reduction of affordable-housing units, for the thousands more vehicles it would add into already-crowded Bay Bridge traffic, and for the man-made island’s presumed susceptibility to earthquakes and tsunamis.

A city budget analyst’s report prepared for the Budget and Finance Subcommittee meeting forecasted a highly lucrative cash infusion for The City’s general fund. San Francisco is set to spend $156.8 million and take in $236.8 million during 20 years of construction at the World War II Navy base, originally built on landfill for the 1939 World’s Fair. The project would generate thousands of well-paying construction jobs for the 8,000 much-needed housing units. After construction, the project stands to generate even more money for The City. For the first time, the island would have a complete range of community amenities, including retail and restaurants, a school, a hotel, easy parking, open space, parks and ball fields.

A decade of engineering work has produced credible state-of-the-art plans for protecting Treasure Island against earthquakes and tsunamis. And most of The City’s $156.8 million infrastructure obligation would be spent on improving access to the island, including more Muni buses and a ferry terminal with downtown service every 15 minutes.

Treasure Island would have either 25 or 30 percent affordable housing, depending on whether The City can obtain a legislative waiver exempting it from Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to dismantle California’s redevelopment agencies and end their less-costly construction financing. It is hard to imagine a more win-win project than Treasure Island.

So now the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider project approval and the environmental report appeal at its June 7 meeting. At least the report protest will hopefully be the final obstacle delaying Treasure Island’s groundbreaking. San Francisco needs to obtain full benefits from the underused treasure it has waiting in the middle of the Bay.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

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CA island affords rare chance for city expansion

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Created in the 1930s in San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island is said to have earned its name from the gold some imagined was hidden in dredged materials that form its foundation, as well as the exotic valuables displayed there for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.
Developers have continued to view the 400-acre former Navy base as a precious commodity, and a proposal to turn it into a bustling residential and commercial enclave recently cleared a major hurdle when it was narrowly approved by the city Planning Commission.

The plan includes nearly 8,000 new homes, 140,000 square feet of retail space and 300 acres of public open space — a drastic change to a neighborhood that now has fewer than 2,000 full-time residents and just two restaurants.

Supporters say the 15-year project would finally tap the island's potential and provide a rare expansion opportunity for a city surrounded by water on three sides.

Opponents counter that the population boom would put a significant strain on the environment and create a traffic nightmare on the Bay Bridge, one of the region's primary transit arteries and the only way to reach the island by car.
Some current residents and commercial tenants are eager for change, describing the island as a gem that remains far too hidden.

Mark Connors moved to the island about seven years ago for its affordable rent and abundant fresh air, but it was the prospect of redevelopment that kept him and his husband from leaving.

"The island itself needs some work, new infrastructure," said Connors, 51, who acknowledged some concerns about increased bridge traffic. "This is going to be a great city planning experiment, and I think we're all going to learn a lot as it comes together."

Alexis Valerio, director of business development for The Winery SF, one of the island's best-known businesses, said the project would bring new life to the island.
The winery, which occupies a 20,000-square-foot former clipper ship hangar, would likely have to find a new home if the plan is adopted, but Valerio said she still supports the "big picture" benefits for the island.

If the April 21 city Planning Commission meeting was any indication, members of the Board of Supervisors could be in for a long, intense debate when they take up the issue in June.

The commission spent six hours scrutinizing the plan, eventually splitting down political lines, with four mayoral appointees voting for the plan and three members appointed by the board voting against it.

After the 1939 exposition, Treasure Island was supposed to become San Francisco's first airport. But the Navy saw it as an ideal site for a base during World War II and offered the city a trade for a larger parcel of land in South San Francisco.

Since the base closed in 1997, the island has seen the arrival of several wineries, an occasional Gaelic football match and production crews for "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "MythBusters" and other films and TV shows. Plans to build a theme park, casino and luxury golf courses all have failed to gain traction.

The latest proposal has the endorsement of Mayor Edwin Lee, who was appointed in January after former Mayor Gavin Newsom was sworn in as lieutenant governor. Newsom was a vocal proponent of island redevelopment.
"The Treasure Island project will create a new, unique San Francisco neighborhood that has broken new ground with smart design elements that respond to the challenges of developing on an island," Lee said.
Those challenges include making sure the manmade island can withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and rises in sea level.

The development team, which includes Wilson Meany Sullivan, Lennar Urban and Kenwood Investments, has proposed some ambitious solutions, including crushing more than a million cubic yards of fill into the ground and elevating new building pads, streets and infrastructure several feet to protect against flooding.

Developers also point to environmentally sustainable features such as a system to recycle water, buildings and streets angled to maximize sun exposure and reduce wind, and various offerings to encourage the use of public transportation, including a new ferry terminal and subsidized transit service.

"At Treasure Island, you have a unique opportunity to address sustainability not as an afterthought but in the very formulation of the place," said Chris Meany of Wilson Meany Sullivan, one of the developers.

Critics say the question is not how green the island will be, but how the addition of 19,000 new residents will affect the larger San Francisco Bay area.
"What Treasure Island represents is a concept of sustainability that's specific to the island itself, but not the region," said Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, a nonprofit environmental group.

Of particular concern is the potential addition of thousands of commuters to the already congested Bay Bridge.

"If you could choose one place in the entire Bay Area to completely mess up traffic, that would be it," said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, a group that promotes transportation reform in San Francisco.

Livable City and other groups have criticized the amount of parking contained in the plan — one spot per residential unit. That does little to encourage people to embrace alternative means of transportation, Radulovich said.
Meany argues the population of the San Francisco Bay Area is growing whether or not his project becomes reality. Treasure Island's close proximity to downtown San Francisco — five to 10 minutes by car or ferry — makes it an ideal location to absorb some of that growth, he said.

"The issue here is we have people, they need to be accommodated, and we know that if we continue to allow our region to sprawl, the negative impacts will be amplified," Meany said.

Environmental concerns will likely be a major focus when the Board of Supervisors takes up the plan.

Another contentious issue will be a recent change in the project's quota for affordable housing. Currently, 25 percent of the 8,000 planned units would have to be set aside for low-income residents, down from the original requirement of 30 percent.

The shift is a result of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies to save the state money. Infrastructure improvements on the island would cost an estimated $1.5 billion, and San Francisco was counting on redevelopment funds to cover one-third of those costs. The remaining two-thirds would come from developers and tax revenues from the future residents.

With redevelopment money temporarily off the table, the city plans to pay for the project using infrastructure financing districts, in which property tax revenues are diverted to fund improvements to public property. However, that mechanism was not expected to generate enough money to pay for 30 percent affordable housing.

Lee said he is committed to restoring the original affordable housing quota and already has begun lobbying the state for additional funding.

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Treasure Island redevelopment projected to rake big money for San Francisco Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

By: Dan Schreiber 05/10/11 12:34 PM
Examiner Staff Writer

What’s that weird sound coming from the center of San Francisco Bay? Don’t worry, it’s probably just the ringing of public cash registers.

An analyst’s report set to go before city supervisors at Wednesday’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee says the complete redevelopment of Treasure Island will bring in a little more than $80 million to San Francisco’s general fund during its 20-year buildup, which includes 8,000 new homes that are projected to increase the island’s population nearly tenfold to 19,000.

The timing, and perhaps the entire project, depends on whether the full Board of Supervisors approves the plan at its regular May 17 meeting. The City’s Planning Commission gave it a 4-3 vote during an hours-long evening hearing on April 21, when a long line of public speakers either touted the project’s potential to build a self-sustained ecotopia, or decried the plan for a recent reduction in affordable housing targets, its potential to further snarl Bay Bridge traffic and its susceptibility to earthquakes and tsunamis.

Questions remain over how the progressive supervisor and simultaneous mayoral candidate John Avalos will vote on the matter in light of the affordable housing reductions, which came as a result of fears that Gov. Jerry Brown will be successful in his bid to eliminate redevelopment agencies statewide. Once under a redevelopment financing structure, planners last month said they will instead use an “infrastructure financing district,” which similarly allows governments to borrow development capital against future tax revenue.

The report says that if the new island community is finished by 2030, it will provide an annual $3.3 million to city coffers and after financing is complete, $30 million per year. The City is set to spend $156.8 million and take in $236.8 million during 20 years of construction at the former U.S. Navy base.

The $5 billion project also includes high-rises with panoramic views of San Francisco (and Oakland, if you dig the Oakland skyline) along with 400 acres of open space and a $155 million investment in transportation, including more Muni buses and a ferry terminal that would send boats downtown every 15 minutes.

[email protected]

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$1.5B Treasure Island plans clear another hurdle


Plans to turn a man-made island in San Francisco Bay into the city's newest neighborhood have cleared another hurdle.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors' Land Use and Economic Development committee voted on Monday to approve the $1.5 billion plan, which would add 8,000 housing units to the 400-acre former Naval base.

The plan also includes 140,000 square feet of retail space and 300 acres of public open space on the island, created in the 1930s for the Golden Gate International Exposition. Currently, only about 2,000 people live there.

Supporters say the plan provides badly needed expansion for San Francisco. Opponents say expansion would create too much traffic on the already congested San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

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Would You Live on Treasure Island?

The ecometropolis planned for Treasure Island could be a good financial deal for the city and the developers.

But it all depends on taxes generated by the island’s future residents and businesses. So the question is: Will people want to live on a windy island in the middle of the bay?

The development team -- headed by Lennar and Wilson Meany Sullivan –- has planned 8,000 new condos and townhomes that could accommodate 19,000 residents. Sale prices have been set between $600,000 and $900,000, slightly less than prices in San Francisco.

The upsides include incredible views, the proximity to downtown San Francisco, and the acres of planned parks, as well as organic farm and a wind farm to provide power for the area. The downside is transportation: there will be long waits and high tolls to drive on and off the island whose only exit is onto the already-congested Bay Bridge. And there is the larger question of whether there is enough demand for the new housing.

Chris Foley, who heads the Polaris Group, a real estate sales and marketing firm, said he believes that Treasure Island will appeal to families and “urban hipsters” who want to live near San Francisco, but don’t want the grittiness of the city.

“They have great access to the city, and they can a buy a brand-new place,” said Foley, who’s not working on the Treasure Island project.

Although a ferry terminal, more buses, and a five-dollar toll are being touted as the way to reduce congestion, questions still remain about the impact the addition of thousands of cars will have on traffic.

The planning commission approved the Treasure Island redevelopment plan. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on the project May 17. The Supervisors' budget and finance committee will hold a hearing on the project this Wednesday.

The island has long inspired city planners. Over the past 20 years, proposals for the island have included a brothel, a theme park, and a luxury golf course. But no project has reached the Board of Supervisors until now.

Community groups, including Arc Ecology, are planning to appeal the planning decision's ruling, because a variety of changes have been made to the project. The number of housing units planned has increased from 6,000 to 8,000, and affordable housing has been cut from 30 percent of the project to 25 percent, or 2,000 units.

“The changes to the project are too big and the impacts are going to be too great,” said Saul Bloom, who heads Arc Ecology.

Harvey Rose Associates, the city’s independent budget analyst, said in a new report that San Francisco’s general fund would take in $80 million in net revenue over the next 20 years if the development goes forward.

The development is projected to drain $156.8 million from the general fund to cover the costs of police, fire, expanded Muni service, libraries and other services. But the city would bring in a total of $236.8 million over the 20-year build-out from a variety of taxes from future residents, businesses and property owners.

It will cost around $1.5 billion to get the island ready for development. That includes raising and shoring up the ground, which is made from fill that, as it stands now, could easily liquefy during an earthquake or be overrun by rising sea levels. One third of that will be paid for by the developers, one third will be paid for by taxing future residents, and one third will be paid for with an increase in property taxes.

Rich Hillis, who’s with the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, said that the city won't be on the hook if things don't pan out. “The developer is taking most the risk on this project,” said Hillis.

Currently, Treasure Island is a quiet place with low-slung town homes and sports fields where traditional Irish games, such as hurling and Irish football, are played. There are currently about 2,000 residents.

Mark Connors, who moved to Treasure Island from San Francisco six years ago, said he was drawn by the combination of cheap rent and proximity to the city. He called living on the island a “mixed-bag.”

“The rents are cheap, we have plenty of open space, and we have a good community,” said Connors. “The thing I don’t like about it is that there’s not here: there’s no grocery store and there’s just a little hamburger joint and two convenience stores.”

Connors said he’s in favor of the new development, which promises to bring stores, libraries and a school to the island.

Source: The Bay Citizen (

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Monumental 'Bliss Dance' Sculpture Displayed on Treasure Island

Isabelle Boucq – Thu May 26, 6:56 pm ET

After reigning over Burning Man 2010 in the Nevada desert, the 40-foot sculpture was laying in pieces in the studio of artist Marco Cochrane on Treasure Island. No longer.

'Bliss Dance,' which portrays a giant nude woman dancing with her eyes closed, is once again standing tall with the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, thanks in part to the efforts of Mirian Saez, director of island operations for the Treasure Island Development Authority.

"It seemed a shame," explained Saez about watching the powerful sculpture dissembled in the local artist's studio. Cochrane's piece is the first sculpture to grace Treasure Island's future Art Park. The objective is to exhibit a series of grand-scale sculptures meant to attract visitors to the island and to take advantage of the views of the San Francisco Bay.

"What I see missing in the world is an appreciation and respect for feminine energy and power that results when women are free and safe. 'Bliss Dance' is intended to focus attention on this healing power," said Cochrane. Constructed out of steel rod and tubing in layers of geodesic triangles, the sculpture is covered with a skin of stainless steel mesh.

Magnificent during the day, 'Bliss Dance' comes alive at night thanks to 1,000 LED lights that light her from the inside and outside. The lighting is controlled through a customized iPad application that Cochrane hopes to offer for download at the sculpture site soon.

The Black Rock Arts Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, the sculptures' original funders. and the members of Bliss Crew who helped build her all made this installation possible. 'Bliss Dance' is scheduled to remain on display on Treasure Island for the next six months.

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Looks like a really interesting project. So it is officially proposed? When would they start to construct it?

The Bay Citizen piece of news sounded a bit like they'd have to build it on a speculative base.

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Looks like a really interesting project. So it is officially proposed? When would they start to construct it?

The Bay Citizen piece of news sounded a bit like they'd have to build it on a speculative base.
The project is officially proposed, and it is currently going through the approval process. As for the base, the island is man-made and might shift a lot in the event of a major earthquake. It is also at risk to sea level rise due to its low elevation. I am sure all these issues will be addressed as the project moves forward.

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It looks like its all going to be built without any opposition. :)

S.F. approves Treasure Island plan

Will Kane, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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To cheers and applause from the audience, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a massive new neighborhood proposed for Treasure Island.

In the 11-0 vote the board rejected claims by groups such as the Sierra Club that the project would harm the environment and exacerbate traffic problems.

Instead, members of the board said the $1.5 billion project would breathe new life into the old Navy base in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

The plan, almost 15 years in the making, calls for 19,000 new residents to live in a new neighborhood wrapped in open space and dotted with high-rises, one as tall as 450 feet. Residential units would be within walking distance of shops, a grocery store, a school and new ferry terminal.

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