When the Military shut down operations on the U.S. Navy Hunters Point Shipyard in 1974, they took the biggest economic driver of the Bayview with them, and left huge, empty industrial buildings behind. Within the decade, Jacques Terzian, who fabricated found-object based furniture and wall installations, rented out a large warehouse in the late 1970s at the Hunters Point Shipyard on Parcel G. He began subletting some of the space in his warehouse to other artists, and by 1980, Jacques realized that there was a real need for more artist work spaces. He envisioned the abandoned buildings on Parcels A and B also becoming artist studios. Jacques began converting several of these buildings, and named them ‘The Point.’ The artist community at Hunter’s Point expanded as more artists made their way to the shipyard studios.
In 1985, the City of San Francisco made a deal with the Navy to attempt to reopen the old shipyard as a home port to the USS Missouri. Part of that deal would force the artists out. Faced with eviction, shipyard tenants banded together to preserve the unique mixture of arts and small business flourishing there. Busloads of The Point tenants and artists, garbed in bright orange t-shirts with the slogan “What’s the Point”, flooded city hall to show their opposition to the pending eviction. This group was joined by a broad coalition of community leaders and environmentalists. The coalition stalled evictions from the shipyard for almost a decade. Artists’ donations of artwork for auction raised thousands of dollars to help create a permanent art community in the shipyard, which was formalized in 1989.
In 2000, a coalition of local organizations, including the Shipyard artists and IBNA, placed Proposition P on the San Francisco ballot. Winning with 86% of votes, it is a non-binding declaration of city policy that the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard be cleaned of toxic contamination to a standard that permits any use to occur on any part of it. It requests that the Navy allocate enough money to clean the site for unrestricted use.
While the artist and community advocates pushed the clean up efforts, Mayor Willie Brown signed on to a complex deal with the Navy to ensure clean up and transfer of the World War II base to the City for re-development. The new community would include thousands of housing units, retail and business centers… and the Hunters Point Shipyard Studios community.
After 80 years, many of the original buildings that were converted into artist’s studios are in horrible disrepair and slated to be demolished. Lennar Inc., the corporation that won the Shipyard development bid, agreed to build a new arts center that would be offered to those displaced by the tear down, and create an arts district in the heart of the new development. The 89,000-square-foot building will include studio space for nearly 150 artists along with a 1,600-square-foot gallery, and sound-proofed rehearsal spaces for musicians. The new building will be located adjacent to historic Building 101 which currently serves 150 artists, ensuring the continued existence of “America’s largest artist community.”
Lennar broke ground in early 2016 and completed much of the site preparation work, before it was discovered that the soil testing samples that were part of the Navy’s massive $1 billion cleanup efforts, turned out to be falsified by the Navy’s contractor Tetra Tech. Currently, the project is on hold pending a comprehensive re-testing of the entire site which could be completed by 2022.
Learn more about The Shipyard artists through this video series: https://www.shipyardartists.com/shipyard-artist-video-series/
All Shipyard reuse is under the auspices of the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII, formerly the Redevelopment Agency). Community oversight is through the Citizens Advisory Committee, which holds regular public meetings. CAC members are selected by the Mayor. IBNA Board member Richard Laufmann is a CAC member.
The approximately 500 acre HPS was divided into seven geographic parcels for testing, remediation, transfer, and development. The Transfer Schedule indicates when the cleaned land (or water) will transfer ownership from the U.S. Navy to the City and County of San Francisco.
- Parcels A, UC-1, UC-2, and D-2: Have already been transferred
- Parcel B: January 2023
- Parcel C: July 2023
- Parcel D-1: September 2023
- Parcel E: March 2025
- Parcel E-2: December 2024
- Parcel F (the water): August 2027
- Parcel G: September 2022
- Parcel UC-3: March 2023
Learn more: OCII Presentation March 2018
Questions or Additions
The India Basin Neighborhood Association welcomes questions, corrections, or additions about any of the projects mentioned here: Use the Contact Form