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Inside the Brand-New Residents' Homes at the SF Shipyard

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The entranceway of Dean Tomarat's new townhouse at the San Francisco Shipyard, featuring a painting by Hunters Point artist Tanya Joyce. Photos via <a href="http://www.patriciachangphotography.com">Patricia Chang</a>
The entranceway of Dean Tomarat's new townhouse at the San Francisco Shipyard, featuring a painting by Hunters Point artist Tanya Joyce. Photos via Patricia Chang

One day, the Hunters Point site that holds the San Francisco Shipyard will have more than 10,000 new homes sprawled across a formerly toxic old shipbuilding lot on the southern edge of the city. It's not impossible to imagine the community that will grow there if everything goes according to plan, with residents drawn by the clear weather, turquoise bay views, and easy access to freeways. For now, however, only two of the Shipyard's buildings have opened. The very first residents, who are referred to as "visionaries" by developer Lennar Urban, have started moving in. We stopped in to visit two of the Shipyard's townhouses in its first building, Olympia, and their owners as they settle into their new homes.

Dean Tomarat didn't know that a development was being built at the old shipyard until he came to an artists' open studio on-site. Art has long been a big part of the shipyard community, and Lennar has integrated the local artists' community into their development plans by holding open studios, using local artists' work in their sales offices, and, most importantly, promising to build a $30 million artists' building that will house 130 affordable studios.

Not long after that open studio, Dean decided to buy a two-bedroom townhouse at the Shipyard for "around $650,000" and rent out the two-bedroom loft that he owned downtown. He hadn't been looking to move but saw the potential in the underdeveloped area and wanted to be a part of it. As an added bonus, he works in South San Francisco and saw his commute cut by more than half with his move to the Shipyard. "A lot of being here is taking a risk on the vision," Dean admitted. "But I just imagine it even in the next two years when there are hundreds of families here."

Dean has only been in his new townhouse for six weeks but has already jumped into action making the place his own. He had contractors in to take down a wall to open up the living room, put in accent walls in the entry and the bathrooms, and brought in his art, which includes several pieces from the local Shipyard artists. He's also added tiny touches to the space, like the blue handrails along the staircases that make his unit feel more like a designer home than an off-the-shelf townhouse.

An accent wall that Dean put in his bathroom shortly after purchasing his townhouse

So far, Dean is enjoying his new community. "In Bayview and Hunters Point, people talk to each other," he says. "They're friendly, unlike in other places around the city." He's been dining on Third Street at restaurants like Radio Kitchen Africa and Auntie April's Chicken-n-Waffles, and looks forward to seeing the neighborhood continue to grow.

Ryan and Angela Lyles came to the Shipyard from much farther away than downtown. They had been living in Morgan Hill, well south of San Jose, and commuting to downtown San Francisco every day, a trip that could take two and a half hours each way in rush-hour traffic. The Lyles knew that they wanted to move closer to work and knew that they wanted to buy, but originally thought that they couldn't do so in San Francisco. They looked at the East Bay and South Bay, but both places felt like "settling" on something that wasn't quite right. The Shipyard changed that, and they purchased a two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse for around $650,000. They now take a shuttle provided by the Shipyard every day downtown, a minimal commute compared with what they were undertaking before.

Ryan and Angela Lyles have been able to quickly make their townhouse feel like home

Ryan and Angela have only been in their townhouse for two weeks, but have found it easy to decorate. The finishes all came standard with the unit, but because they were all neutral, the furniture that the couple already had has fit in easily.

One of their favorite things about their home is its views looking out to the city skyline. They can see the Bay Bridge and watch the fog rolling across the skyline each night. Ryan and Angela own a dog and are looking forward to the hundreds of acres of parks that are planned for the Shipyard to take her for long walks. They are also looking forward to the influx of new infrastructure that will one day be part of the neighborhood. "It will all be walking distance eventually," says Angela. "We like this community because no one is displacing anyone—there were no residential buildings here before—but we are bringing things with us, like transportation and retail."

The view out to the city skyline

In the meantime, they are enjoying meeting their neighbors at events sponsored by Lennar, like a bike tour through the old shipyard. They plan to stay in their new home for years and watch the community grow around them.

· New SF Shipyard Homes Have Pricing That Starts Under $500K [Curbed SF]
· $30 Million Artists' Building Approved for SF Shipyard [Curbed SF]
· San Francisco Shipyard [Official Site]