mn_hunters_point_0003_jc1.jpgMayor Gavin Newsom helped break ground today to celebrate the beginning of construction on a new public housing project in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.

The planned 267-unit development, called Hunters View, is a pilot project for the Mayor’s HOPE SF initiative to revitalize eight distressed public housing sites in San Francisco.

In 2007, Newsom and the Board of Supervisors authorized $95 million to launch HOPE SF, and the city intends to leverage another $100 to $200 million in state, federal, and private funds for its completion – including $7 million in federal stimulus money – according to the mayor’s office.

“When HOPE IV funding for public housing revitalization all but disappeared during the Bush Administration, San Francisco had the courage to create HOPE SF,” said Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who was also in attendance at today’s ground-breaking ceremony.

Patrick Gardner, president of the John Stewart Company, the development and property management firm selected by the housing authority to work on the Hunters View project, said they expect the first phase of the project to be completed by late 2011-2012.

The full plan for the area, which will include a total 710-units plus other amenities, will take until roughly 2016, Gardner said.

Gardner added that they will be “hop-scotching our way through the site” throughout construction because they will be temporarily moving the existing roughly 160 on-site residents currently living in the complex so that they can reconstruct their units before moving them back in when construction is complete.

The project is the first large-scale public housing revitalization effort to create mixed-income communities without displacing current residents, according to the mayor’s office.

Gardner added that these residents will not have to pay for moving costs, and that they are guaranteed new units with, “no rats, no bugs, no nada,” he said.

Although Gardner said the project is long overdue as the units are in a very dilapidated state, he also said that criticisms over delays getting the first project underway since HOPE SF was initiated are unwarranted.

“In San Francisco, to go from start to finish in three to four years is like lightening,” he said.

Gardner said that any project of the scale and quality they are trying to accomplish, which includes fully participatory decision-making with community members, inevitably takes some time.

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