Upscale Eating Whets the Appetite for Change in SF

Vauhini Vara explains what a new upscale eatery could mean for the future character of low-income communities like Bayview and Hunter’s Point and their residents.
May 6, 2012, 7am PDT | Alesia Hsiao
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In March, Eskender Aseged took San Francisco City Hall up on their offer to open one of Bayview District's first upscale eateries, Radio Africa and Kitchen. The restaurant, serving modern African cuisine, has become wildly popular with crowds throughout the city – but at home, some neighborhood residents are unable to savor the dishes due to lack of affordability.

The entry of Radio Africa and other high-end restaurants has become a sign of the changing times in the city's lowest income neighborhoods, notes Vara. "The neighborhood is bracing for a transformation in the next decade as home builder Lennar Corp. starts to replace the city's long-unused shipyard at Hunter's Point with 1,400 homes, along with parks and commercial space."

"The Lennar project is expected to bring an influx of newcomers to Hunter's Point, which has current Bayview and Hunter's Point residents optimistic about the neighborhood improvements that could come. But some of these residents say they are also nervous about the prospect that they could be displaced as the cost of living rises."

Although concerns are warranted, projects to revamp these poor neighborhoods may come to a standstill as funding sources previously provided by redevelopment agencies have dissolved. As San Francisco tries to find alternative economic backing, Aseged remains hopeful and excited about the future changes he can bring to the table.

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Published on Thursday, May 3, 2012 in The Wall Street Journal
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