Neighbors of Candlestick Park Ponder Their Future

For a decaying ballpark often decried for freezing winds, out-of-date amenities and a crumbling facade, there is an awful lot of sentiment for Candlestick Park.

Tachina Danielle grew-up two blocks from the ‘Stick in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood – her childhood forever linked to the hulking concrete stadium down the street.

“It’s like having in your own backyard a famous monument,” Danielle said, without a trace of sarcasm.

When the San Francisco Giants still played there, Danielle would sit in the wooden seats hoping to snag a stray ball. In recent years, she said 49er games would infuse the isolated neighborhood at San Francisco’s southern-most end with a jolt of excitement.

“It was something to look forward to every Sunday,” said Danielle. “So it didn’t matter if there was a crowd out here, whether there was traffic. I looked forward to the noise.”

The noise Danielle and other neighbors will bear in the years to come is the sound of construction. With the 49ers moving South, the stadium is set to be torn down in late 2014. In its place, developers will construct over a million square feet of homes, retail and entertainment space.

A steady slate of building is on tap for the neighborhood, San Francisco’s last frontier of build-able vacant land. On Wednesday a city commission announced approval for plans to rebuild 256 dilapidated housing units in the Alice Griffith public housing complex, as well as the development at Candlestick Point.

For neighbors living in the shadow of Candlestick Park, it meant much to ponder.

“Hopefully that means growth and jobs and opportunity for people in the area,” said Roderick Brooks standing in front of his childhood home, a block from the stadium.

“It’s going to make the community better, but at what cost?” asked Brooks’ brother, Robert Randall.

Randall said the 49ers move to Santa Clara would snatch away a meager, but vital commerce from the neighborhood where residents would sell parking spots and snacks. Others worked in the stadium.

“What this is doing now is taking jobs people in the community relied on,” Randall said.

Across the street from the stadium, Pastor Arelious Walker of True Hope Church of God In Christ looked over at the stadium, recalling busy game days. Though the traffic could be a bear, the church made extra money selling parking spaces in its lot.

Walker happily endorsed plans to rebuild the Alice Griffith housing complex, saying the work would bring thousands of jobs. He figured a run of economic prosperity would help neighbors forget the old stadium.

“They’re going to miss the stick,” Walker said of his neighbors. “But I think with all this development and jobs and stuff like that, that will kind of make up a little bit for that.”

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