House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Naval Secretary Ray Mabus today on the shores of Treasure Island to commemorate an agreement between the Navy and San Francisco that transfers the island’s naval station over to the city.

Newsom was the last of the three to sign the agreement, which marked the culmination of almost two decades of work.

“We couldn’t do it alone,” he said. “We needed to work with the Navy, we needed the process of an agreement, and we needed a private partner.”

The city and its private sector development partner, Treasure Island Community Development, have worked together over the past decade to craft the redevelopment plans.

Since December, when the Navy and San Francisco first reached the agreement to transfer the island land for more than $100 million, that two-page document has grown to more than 80 pages of legal definitions and a financial framework for the site.

Because of the involvement of private partners in the development of Treasure Island, the agreement includes special protections customary in the private sector for these types of transactions, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office.

Treasure Island is the last remaining piece of naval land to be turned over to the city; the others were the Presidio and the Hunters Point shipyard. About 10 percent of the city’s roughly 49 square miles lies within those three formal naval bases.

As part of the agreement, the city will make a guaranteed payment to the Navy of $55 million followed by an additional interim payment of $50 million.

Slightly disheveled by the wind blowing across the bay, Newsom praised Pelosi and Mabus for their commitment and stewardship.

“We needed to create a different paradigm and a different framework through the participation agreement,” Newsom said.

Mabus recalled that he had been secretary “for about 10 minutes” when Pelosi phoned him to ask him to support transferring Treasure Island.

“We were ready with new leadership to capture the opportunity,” Pelosi said in her praise for Mabus’ dedication to the project.

All the speakers recognized that they were standing on the shoulders of former Mayor Willie Brown, who strongly advocated for the transfer during his time in office and often flew to Washington, D.C., to directly advocate for the city.

“His leadership has been relentless on behalf of this project,” Pelosi said of Brown, who sat in the front row of more than 150 people assembled outside Building One.

The development plans for a new commercial town center and residential neighborhood include up to 100,000 square feet of new office space and 8,000 residential units.

Historic structures on Treasure Island are also slated for rehabilitation.

Last month, the city’s planning department released a draft environmental impact report for the project. City officials will need to approve a final version of the report after the department incorporates public comments.

Construction could begin as early as mid 2011 if the environmental review of the project goes according to schedule. A public hearing for that draft environmental report was held on Aug. 12.

The project will create more than 2,000 temporary jobs per year during its construction, and a handful of construction workers wearing DayGlo safety vests and hardhats were among the crowd today.

“The transfer of Treasure Island is a win for San Francisco, it is a win for the state of California, a win for the United States Navy and a win for the U.S. taxpayers who paid for this base and all the infrastructure that’s here,” Mabus said.

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