Old Muni Facility to Become Community Center

The Geneva Car Barn by Balboa Park Station will have a theater, gallery space, classrooms, cafe, and an area that can be rented for functions.

Geneva Car Barn (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse)

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors brought the 116-year-old Geneva Car Barn one step closer to its future as an arts center.

In a meeting that began nearly 13 hours after the unexpected passing of Mayor Ed Lee, supervisors approved a resolution allowing the Recreation and Park Department to accept a $3.5 million grant from the California Department of Parks to remake Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse into a cultural hub.

The structure on Geneva and San Jose avenues —  across from BART’s Balboa Park Station —began in 1901 as an office building and car house for the San Franciso and San Mateo Electric Railway Company. It survived the 1906 earthquake, but not the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989.

At Mayor Willie Brown’s order, SFMTA took demolition off the table 10 years later and relinquished ownership to Rec and Park in 2004. With status for the complete structure designated as a San Francisco Landmark in 2009, plans to create a community center continued.

The new Geneva Car Barn — already seismically retrofitted in 2006 — will have a theater, gallery space, classrooms, cafe, and an area that can be rented for functions. The project budget is $13 million, with $8.1 million coming from the city and $4.8 million from tax credit financing and contributions from the Community Arts Stabilization Trust.

 
Renderings of a proposed future Geneva Car Barn (Photo courtesy of Aidlin Darling Design)

Construction is expected to begin early 2018 and wrap up by the end of the year, says Rec and Park Project Manager Nicole Avril. They hope to begin programming in winter 2019.

“We’re just so excited,” Avril says. “[The community] deserves an asset like this.”

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