When complete, Treasure Island will be San Francisco’s largest and most ambitious housing development to date. Of course, that “when” is still a pretty big “if” at this point but the plan did take a significant step forward last week when the US Navy handed control over an initial 290 acres of the island to San Francisco officials.

This land transfer paves the way for a pair of developers, Lennar Urban and Wilson Meany, to immediately begin building out civic infrastructure like streets and traffic lights ahead of 500 Phase One homes planned for 2017. In all, the $1.5 billion project for both Treasure and Yerba Buena Islands is expected to produce 8,000 housing units and 300 acres of park lands.

“This was an underused military base in one of the most housing starved areas of the country,” Chris Meany, partner at Wilson Meany, told the San Francisco Business Times. “In San Francisco, where there are development wars, people throw stones at this project. When it’s done, this is going to be an incredibly safe, seismically sound, incredibly appropriate residential development.”