Historic Powerhouse to be Restored for Community

After 16 years, Friends of the Geneva Office Building & Powerhouse Successfully Push Forward Renovation of Landmark Building and Pledge to Continue Advocating for Renovation of the Office Building


The 112-year-old Victorian-era Powerhouse at the intersection of Geneva and San Jose avenues now has City funding in place to complete its design and acquire building permits. This step will enable the Powerhouse to be rehabilitated and open in 2017.


Since 1999, the nonprofit Friends of the Geneva Office Building & Powerhouse has been committed to partnering with City agencies to support the revitalization of this important community asset.


The Powerhouse is part of the yet-to-be-restored Geneva Office Building and Car Barn complex. Across from the Balboa Park BART Station at the intersection of the Excelsior and Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside neighborhoods, a renovated Powerhouse will be key to activating the area, spurring economic development.


A survivor of the 1906 earthquake and fire, the slate-roofed, brick-and-concrete Powerhouse was used to generate electricity for the San Francisco & San Mateo Electric Railway, the first electric streetcar company in the city. The San Francisco Municipal Railway acquired the complex in 1944 for streetcar operations. FGOB&P is on the National Register of Historic Places.


After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the complex was abandoned by Muni. In 1999, through the persistent and visionary advocacy from the community members, the building was saved and in 2004, ownership was transferred to the Recreation and Park Department. FGOB&P partnered with RPD to establish a youth and community center and the Office Building underwent seismic stabilization.


With the support of District 11 Supervisor John Avalos, RPD, the Mayor’s Invest in Neighborhoods Initiative, and the San Francisco Arts Commission, the renovation project is now moving forward in a phased approach, to substantially speed up the activation of the building. The project is the lead project of the City’s new Neighborhood Asset Activation program.


Phase One, the Powerhouse Project, will renovate the Powerhouse, a unique sun-lit space of 3,000 square foot with 35-foot ceilings that will be available for many types of uses.


FGOB&P is committed to promoting the project’s great potential benefit for San Francisco youth and the surrounding community to businesses and foundations. We will continue to advocate for restoring this San Francisco gem.


Renovation Project:

  • HazMat remediation; seismic stabilization; ADA accessibility and streetscape improvements; a new roof; new windows; a new floor; and heating and lighting, and mechanical and electrical systems

  • Almost all Phase 1 improvements to Powerhouse will be maintained in Phase 2, when the Office Building is renovated and the Powerhouse completed.


  • Maximize activation of the building

  • Provide community- and youth-serving programming with a focus on the arts

  • Facilitate rentals by organizations seeking arts-related programming space

  • Space will be available for community uses and youth afterschool and summer programming and events.


  • Current cost estimate for the Powerhouse is $6.8 million

  • Mayor Lee’s FY15-16 budget  provides $475,000 to  the Powerhouse project

  • Other funds available for the project, pending forthcoming applications, include $3 million from RPD’s Community Opportunity Fund  and $1,050,000 in Historic Tax Credits.


  • RPD will continue to manage and lead the project, with support from Invest in Neighborhoods staff (Office of Economic and Workforce Development) and Supervisor Avalos’ office

  • FGOB&P will  provide input into the programming, fundraising  and community outreach rather than serving as developer of the building.


  • City design development reviews: August to September 2015

  • Construction documents and reviews: September 2015 to February 2016

  • Powerhouse Project – permits (February to June 2016); bidding (July to September 2016); construction (October 2016 to May 2017)