The Geneva Car Bar and Powerhouse

Designed by the Reid Brothers and built in 1901 at the corner of San Jose and Geneva Avenues for the San Mateo Electric Railway Company, the landmark Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse complex has sat abandoned since 1989 when damaged in the Loma Prieta Earthquake, twenty-five years ago today.

Slated to be demolished by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority, ownership of the Car Bar and Powerhouse, but not the rail yard behind, was transferred from the SFMTA to the Recreation and Parks Department at the urging of the community and under the direction of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.  And since 2004, plans to restore the building as a youth center have been in the works.

As envisioned, the Office Buildings will contain arts‐related training facilities, a 99-seat movie theater, administrative offices, a training kitchen, and a 2,000 square foot restaurant along with 730 square foot retail space on the ground floor.

The adjacent Powerhouse space would become a community space and performing arts theater, with room for a 300 person event.

Geneva Car Barn Powerhouse Rendering

Next week, a development agreement and potential 55-year lease for the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse could finally be approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

And if approved, The Friends of the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse will have until 2017 to secure all the necessary funds for the project which will cost an estimated $24 million and take around a year and a half to construct.  A total of $857,572 has been secured to date, including $837,863 from the 2000 Neighborhood Park Bonds and $19,709 in private fundraising.  A mixture of City bond funds, City grants, tax credits and nearly $7 million of private fundraising make up the rest of the plan to fund the project.

If The Friends are successful, the renovated Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse could be open and serving the community by the end of 2018.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Serge

    Very nice! That exposed brick looks fantastic. We need more adaptive reuse like that.

  2. Posted by Adam

    It is a neat piece of the city’s transportation history, but it feels a little isolated in the center of all of those Muni yards.

    • Posted by Serge

      Don’t forget that this intersection is practically an on/off ramp for the freeway. Not pedestrian friendly at all.

  3. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Great building and plan. And (speaking as someone on two non-profit boards, for entities actually already doing things) I’m incredibly pessimistic about their odds of rising literally millions of private dollars for this.

  4. Posted by Grrr

    This neighborhood is virtually ignored by the city. The barn is a good start; however, the trains needs to stop unloading passengers off in the middle of the street. It’s a mess. It’s a shame that the barn can;t open more to the street and perhaps be factored in with the trains more.

  5. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    This should help Mission Terrace even more. It is already a great residential neighborhood.

  6. Posted by BobN

    $24M to gut and reinforce a building and construct a tiny theatre? Are they out of their minds?

  7. Posted by Blair Terrace

    Incorporating mixed use housing and retail should be the top priority. It’s next to Balboa BART and it would pay for all the rehab. I am less than enthusiastic about the current plans to renovate and make another community/training center run by the City and County.

    • Posted by Joseph A

      agree , this and the parking lot across the street should have been developed into housing

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