The din of a jackhammer rattled the half-finished neighborhood — where sleek modern homes stood across the street from the construction skeletons of homes-in-progress.
Dean Tomarat stood on the curb in front of his new home, surveying the workers — all engaged in various building activities. Then his eye swept to the end of the street and the bay beyond it.
“I can’t believe that water view is incredible,” Tomarat said.
For now, Tomarat is one of the few neighbors to enjoy this particular angle. Two months ago, he became the first homeowner to move into the new Shipyard development, San Francisco’s newest neighborhood built on the former Navy shipyard in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point. Some 1,100 homes will eventually occupy the development’s first hilltop phase. But as construction plods along, the strips of completed homes occupy just a couple streets.
“A lot of people did tell me, 'Why would you want to come out live out here?'” said Tomarat who works a tech job in nearby South San Francisco. One reason for the move southeast is that it replaced his previous hour-long commute from the city’s Tenderloin with a quick 15-minute jaunt.
Tomarat stumbled across the development by accident. He showed up one weekend for the artists' open studios held in the shipyard’s aging buildings. After noticing the development rising on the hill, he asked his real estate agent to look into its plans.
“When I discovered the development here at the shipyard, I was really excited about what they’re trying to do here — the vision,” Tomarat recalled.
Tomarat’s foray into the city’s Southeastern tip is bold in some respects. The nearby Bayview-Hunters Point has struggled with poverty and ongoing gang violence. On top of that, parts of the shipyard were declared a Superfund site because of the high levels of leftover toxic residue. The Navy is still remediating parts of the base. Still, Tomarat wasn’t daunted, and said the cleanup site is a ways down the hill from his home.
“I’m aware of those concerns and those risks,” Tomarat said. “My understanding is the ground we are on here is not part of the Superfund site.”
Tomarat’s real estate agent Melody Hultgren has since been trumpeting the new development, especially as buyers priced out of other neighborhoods explore further frontiers. She estimated it would still take about a decade for nearby grocery stores and services to fill in. But she said the development will eventually be a bustling neighborhood.
“Just walk onto this property, the views are incredible,” said Hultgren of Climb Real Estate. “That’s not going to change. Where are you going to find views like this?”
Despite the newness and sweeping bay vistas, Hultgren said she hears from the naysayers.
“Some agents had asked me, 'Why would you bring your clients out there, you like afraid of the elements?’” Hultgren said.
Aside from the daily construction noise, Tomarat said the neighborhood is quiet, especially since there are currently hardly any neighbors.
“I just like living here,” Tomarat said. "It’s like being in a resort.”
Still, Tomarat is looking forward to having more company as the neighborhood fills up with new residents and open space.
“I do see the vision, U do see the future,” he said. “New residents moving in — families, kids, lots of parks.”
For now, Tomarat is happy in the role of proud neighbor — snapping a picture every Monday morning of the construction — so he can eventually look back on the neighborhood’s evolution. He’s also filled his walls with art pieces created by the shipyard’s artists.
“I do see how this community will be something, I don’t think San Francisco has seen before,” Tomarat said.