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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Major Transformation is Happening on Treasure Island

Jun 24, 2022 10:09AM ● By Pam Kessler

San Francisco’s 400-acre Treasure Island was built in 1936 by the Army Corps of Engineers, with mud dredged from the Bay, attaching it to the banks of Yerba Buena Island. Once envisioned as a future airport, Treasure Island made its debut hosting the first World Fair—The Golden Gate International Exposition—in 1939, earning the nickname ‘magic city’ for bringing people across the planet together in a celebration of progress. But in 1941, aviation plans were quashed, when the island became a US Navy training and education hub for 4.5 million military personnel enroute to the Pacific during World War II.

Now almost two decades since military use ended in 1997, Treasure Island is undergoing a major transformation into a new Bay Area community complete with 8,000 homes, office and retail space, multi-modal transportation, 300-acres of parks and open space, public art, hotels, restaurants, and 22-miles of trails. 



Treasure Island Development Authority President Fei Tsen joined CREW East Bay (Commercial Real Eastate Women) for a forum at Mer Sea Restaurant to share the vision and philosophy behind the project’s design. Tsen said the master restoration—projected for completion between 2035-2040—aims to “create a sustainable community with the realization that climate change and sea level rising are critical elements of the habitat management plan.” 

Among the projects undertaken so far: A new ferry terminal with ten minute service to San Francisco, luxury condominiums where residents are already moving in, and the first affordable 137-unit housing project is nearly completed, and the second broke ground this month. “We are putting the finishing touches on The Causeway, a road connecting Treasure and Yerba Buena islands, which will open later this year,” said Fei. “And we’re excited about a new hilltop dog park on top of Yerba Buena Island with some of the best Bay views anywhere,” said Fei. 


“Getting people on and off the island is one of our greatest challenges,” said Rachel Hiatt Deputy Director of Planning, San Francisco County Transportation Authority who also spoke at the CREW forum. “At buildout, there could be 75,000 daily car trips by both visitors and residents on and off the island.” Hiatt also explained that as a condition of the San Francisco Board of Supervisor's approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), “the goal is to make 50% of the trips on and off the islands via mass transit, whether that is by a bus, shuttle, or ferry service.”

"Residents are encouraged to walk and bike on the islands, drivers will need to pay a toll to travel in both directions to deal with congestion issues," Hiatt explained. While rates have not been adopted, tolls will be income-based with Bay Area residents paying anywhere from $1.25 or $2.50 per trip during off-peak hours to $2.50-$5 at peak. 

More than 1,200 homes are slated to come on line in 2022-24, both market-rate and affordable. To stay connected and updated on this once in a generation project, go to


 Walnut Creek Magazine is a media sponsor for CREW East Bay. Photographs provided by Treasure Island Transit Development Authority in collaboration with Treasure Island Development Group.




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