Geneva Avenue Car Barn securing funding for fix-up work 

Architects have revealed their vision for a shuttered, 110-year-old train depot near the Balboa Park BART station — and now they are trying to convince the state a revival is worth the investment.

The Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse at San Jose and Geneva avenues has been vacant since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and barely escaped demolition. But a nonprofit that took over the building from The City revealed Thursday detailed schematics that are key to securing money to move a renovation project forward.

The 16,000-square-foot center will house a restaurant, a black box theater, several design studio spaces and retail space for neighborhood-oriented businesses, under the group’s proposal. If state officials agree that the designs do not tamper with the building’s historical value, the nonprofit could secure 20 percent of the $16 million in funding needed for the project through tax credits. The rest would come from other grants and private donors.

The building is thought to be one of the last physical reminders of The City’s first electric rail system. It served as a depot for the San Mateo Railroad, and later for all San Francisco rail lines. The Recreation and Park Department owns the property, but since it does not have the resources to repair the building, the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse nonprofit, which is named after the building, formed in 2009 to push the project forward.

“We’ve been working for the past two years or so to get to this point,” Executive Director McCrae Parker said.

“It will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the neighborhood,” said Nicole Avril, a director for Rec and Park who presented the project’s progress to the Rec and Park Commission on Thursday.

Avril, who also used to be the executive director of the nonprofit, explained that the building is severely important to the neighborhood because it will provide space for youth programming in an underserved community. District 11 is home to the Excelsior and Ingleside neighborhoods, which have the highest percentage of youths in San Francisco, yet the lowest percentage of youth services, she said.

However, Avril also said in 2009 that she expected the project to be finished by 2013. That has changed to 2014 for a plethora of reasons such as the need to find funding.

Commissioner Gloria Bonilla, who has been following the progress of the building closely, said, “It’s right in my neighborhood, and I can’t wait until it happens.”

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