SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today that the Department has secured more than $11 million to renovate the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse (also known as the Car Barn) that will develop more open space, and preserve the historic and cultural resources at the site. The SF Rec and Park Commission unanimously voted to allocate $3 million of the Community Opportunity Fund, a grant program from the 2012 Parks Bond, for design and construction services for the project. As a result, with a total of $11 million of renovation funds, and a conceptual design approved by the Commission in 2014, the Department is finalizing the design package to prepare for construction bidding.
“This building has been a blight on our neighborhood for over 20 years,” said District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai whose district includes the Car Barn. “The Geneva Powerhouse renovation will restore this historic landmark and create one of the premiere performing arts and cultural centers in San Francisco, right here in District 11, home to the largest number of children under the age of 18 living in San Francisco.”
Located in District 11, Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse is the last physical reminder of the City’s first electric railway system. First owned by private railway companies and then by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), it was occupied until 1989, at which time it was heavily damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake. When it was scheduled to be demolished in 1998, the community organized to convince then Mayor Willie Brown to save the building. In 2004, ownership was transferred to SF Rec and Park with the goal of creating a recreational space for youth and families, especially for arts-related youth development.
“SF Rec and Park is thrilled to embark on this journey of renovating the Car Barn with our elected leaders, community organizations and neighbors,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “We look forward to designing and building a creative space that will become a community hub of healthy recreation for generations to come.”
Currently, the Car Barn is comprised of two adjoining structures: a two-story office building containing approximately 13,000 square feet of space and a single-story Powerhouse, containing approximately 3,000 square feet of space. The current project will renovate solely the Powerhouse structure. The funding sources for the renovation also include $2.7 million from the general fund secured by former District 11 Supervisor John Avalos and current District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, a $3.5 million pledge by Historic Preservation and New Market Tax Credit Funds, and more.
Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), a nonprofit San Francisco-based organization, committed to securing affordable spaces for arts and culture organizations. CAST’s Executive Director, Moy Eng, commented “We are excited to be a part of the activation of the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse which will significantly benefit the community by providing access to the arts and serve as a family oriented hub and event space.”
Since 2008, after extensive City planning and community input, the Car Barn has been identified as a key element of the economic development of the Balboa Park Station in the Balboa Station Area Transit Oriented Development as presented by the City’s Planning Department. The Plan has indicated that the restoration of the Car Barn “will serve as an anchor for the revitalization of the entire Transit Station Neighborhood.”
The Commission also approved today for the Department to enter a negotiation agreement with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust and the Performing Arts Workshop (The Workshop) to manage and provide arts education and cultural programming at the site. The Workshop is a nationally recognized leader in youth arts education with a priority to bring high-quality arts instruction to youth who otherwise would not be able to access it. The Workshop was recommended by a selection panel for its 50 years of expertise in youth arts education, 40 years of service to District 11 youth, strong track record of partnering with public agencies, and healthy financial standing. Each year, The Workshop artists conduct more than 270 residencies in world dance, music, spoken word poetry, and theater. About 80% of The Workshop’s students are from low-income families, and 70% are people of color. The Workshop also aligns with the values of the District 11 communities that include a mission of social justice, inclusive culture, and progressive labor practices.
Workshop executive director Emily Garvie expressed her enthusiasm for her organization’s role in responding to a decades-old need for cultural programming for youth: “We are simply thrilled to bring a new range of arts programs to District 11 youth. While we’ll continue to conduct residencies throughout the Bay Area, this move to the Powerhouse represents a return to our roots and a deepening of long-cherished partnerships with Excelsior and OMI schools and community centers. All of us at the Workshop take this unique public-private partnership and our stewardship of this cultural and historic gem as a great honor. We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves, deepen connections with neighbors, and get to work in the new and beautiful cultural and youth arts facility that they so deserve.”