By Wilson Walker

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – A new student dorm is going up on Treasure Island and will house 20 teenagers at the Life Learning Academy. The new dorm that broke ground Friday for at-risk high school students will be named for San Francisco’s late Mayor Ed Lee.

The late Mayor Ed Lee’s widow, Anita Lee, was among the dignitaries at the groundbreaking on Treasure Island, honoring her husband.

The island, an old naval station is in a state of transition. Most of the people who are living there — many of them are veterans, or in shelters, or in recovery — are also in transition.

The new facility will eventually provide free housing to 20 students, mostly high school students who don’t have a secure and safe place to sleep every night.

The executive director says some of the students at the school are living couch to couch or in cars.

Mayor Lee visited the school last year, heard about the plans to build a dorm and worked to find a donor. Then major funding came through with a $1.5 million anonymous donation.

Treasure Island is no longer the quiet island in the middle of the bay. It is now sitting squarely between new and old.

Planned development will add 800 housing units to the island and the entire project is expected to take another 20 years.

Treasure Island director Bob Beck said, “So as you come to the island you’ll be going through a construction zone to reach the older portion of the island.”

If you haven’t been out here in a while, it might be worth a little day trip because you will find yourself in a pretty bizarre landscape, a place that is at once both the past and the future.

Beck said, “It’s got a lot of history, we’re trying to bridge that to the future.”

Beck is overseeing this first major phase of construction.

“Of the land the city is receiving from the Navy, only five buildings transfer to the future,” Beck said.

But this isn’t just a piece of land in transition. At least a third of the people that live here are also in transition, living in supportive or low-income housing.

Treasure Island resident Tyrese said, “I was in the lottery for housing for about 11 years, I’ve been very, very fortunate and thankful.”

And while the redevelopment won’t reach this end of the island for several years, everyone knows it’s coming.

Tyrese said, “Whenever you see million-dollar cranes going up you know there’s a lot of development about to start.”

Beck said, “All of our existing affordable housing residents have an option to transition to new affordable units.”

So 20 years after the Navy handed this land to the city, San Francisco is about to grow eastward.

“Oh, it’s going to look nothing like this in 15 years,” said Beck.

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