1401 Howard Street 2016

The plans to rehab Saint Joseph’s Church at 1401 Howard Street, and convert the Western SoMa building into a high-tech office space, with a restaurant and 2,500-square-foot assembly hall in its parish and rectory, were approved by San Francisco’s Planning Commission early last year.

The construction crew is now inside the church. And according to a tipster, they’re currently expecting to be there for a year.

Following a seismic upgrade to the church, which has been vacant since damaged by the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, a freestanding interior mezzanine will be added in wings while the sanctuary space will remain relatively open, designed with tech tenants in mind.

1401 Howard Rendering

Originally designed by John J. Foley and built in 1913, St. Joseph’s is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated San Francisco City Landmark #120. And while the parish was predominantly Irish at the onset, it primarily served a Filipino parish when it closed.

The property was purchased from the Roman Catholic Church by developer Chris Foley in 2008.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by swiftamine

    It would be nice if they incorporated a publicly accessible gallery/exhibit honoring the building’s history.

  2. Posted by donjuan

    Man that would be a terrible office. It would feel like going to an old jesuit prep school.

    • Posted by Brian M

      maybe they could incorporate an Inquisition-era torture chamber for those not generating TEH CODE fast enough?

      • Posted by justme

        Nuns with rulers walking around whacking the knuckles of anyone on facebook?

  3. Posted by jack

    Did anyone notice that there aren’t any overweight models? #ifyoulookforit

  4. Posted by that_dude

    FINALLY. I’ve been waiting years for this thing to happen.

  5. Posted by Sam

    This would be so amazing at a night club / music venue kind of place – oh well

  6. Posted by Notcom

    “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ping Pong Paddle!!” I guess.

    Short of retaining this as a place of worship – presumably unfeasible – this option doesn’t seem any worse than any other.

    (The mezzanine looks not so much “freestanding” as “levitating”, but perhaps some liberties were taken in the rendering.)

  7. Posted by eastbay

    Looks like Newton is winning.

  8. Posted by Jeremy R

    “Looks like Newton is winning.”

    What does this mean exactly?

    • Posted by jj

      It’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        Because of his secrecy over his religious beliefs, Newton has been described as a Nicodemite. According to most scholars, Newton was Arian, not holding to Trinitarianism. ‘In Newton’s eyes, worshipping Christ as God was idolatry, to him the fundamental sin’.

        • Posted by Jeremy r

          Newton wasn’t a standard chrsitian, but he was hugely religous/spiriual. He analyzed the bible relentlessly. He probably believed in the “heavenly father” as described by Jesus, and arians still consider Jesus a prophet, and thus highly value his teachings. I doubt Newton would be pleased by the closing. Now Paul Dirac and Carl Sagan are different stories altogether. Perhaps Dirac and Sagan are winning.

          • Posted by Jeremy r

            I meant “pleased by the closing of this church. Now Paul Dirac…”

            I’m an engineer, and there are a of engineers that worship themselves and their favorite scientists and their favorite inventions. They just don’t realize they are doing it.

            I’m not pleased at converting a beautiful church into another company making social media games. I’d rather develop empty parking lots. Oh well.

  9. Posted by unlivable city

    Who could have any problem with this outcome? The building is preserved and used and peopled… in an ideal world our $9 Billion dollar city budget would include funds to have made this a multi-disciplinary arts space, but the city wouldn’t even cough up money to maintain the sidewalks. So more power to y’all for stepping up…

    • Posted by BobN

      The building is not preserved. The exterior is preserved (though altered with the removal of the windows).

      • Posted by Chris

        Yes, the exterior is preserved. There is no feasible way to perfectly preserve the interior (though major interior elements will be preserved) as this would mean the building could only be used as either a place of worship or a museum.

        By all means, if you have the funds to purchase the building, construct a seismic retrofit, and then a plan to operare it either as a public place of worshiper or a museum, go ahead.

        Otherwise, office space is a fine reuse of the space.

  10. Posted by jj

    My first thought cause I’m a jaded 30 something was “stupid idea.” But now that I look at it more it’s spectacular.

  11. Posted by daved

    It’s great that a wonderful building is being preserved and put to use. As a secular humanist/athiest though, I can’t help but see this as proof that god might be dead. The soaring vaults that once exalted a ‘creator’, now will exalt some app, website, or platform. If ever a building needed lightning insurance, this would be it.

    • Posted by Patrick

      There are these things called “lightning rods” that safely conduct the energy from the sky to the ground–what a concept! But with the few thunderstorms that roll through San Francisco, I doubt you would ever need one.

  12. Posted by Schub

    The end is nigh.

  13. Posted by Matt M

    Great news to see this building and intersection come back to life.

  14. Posted by Oh Dear

    Fantastic news. I live close by and the place was a magnet for all kinds of “people behaving badly”.

  15. Posted by alberto rossi

    A gathering place for the new religion, worship of Saint Steve Jobs

  16. Posted by grrr

    The building is surrounded by pools of urine.

  17. Posted by Dixon Hill

    Tech is the new religion.

  18. Posted by Cody

    I was in the space after the church closed – what a mess. The interior is plaster & fake marble. It will take a lot of work to make this a space that is usable again. The organ pipes were still in the loft a few years ago. Look at the steeples & you will see the tops are falling apart.

    The CC could not afford to make the building safe from earthquakes.

  19. Posted by Ron

    Does anyone know if this project is being designed by Ken Fulk and his design team and if the space will lean more towards special events rather than office space?

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