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SFACC Plans to Turn Bryant Street Substation into a State-of-the-Art Facility

A modern-day view of the Bryant Street Substation from the southwest corner of Bryant & Alameda. SFMTA Photo Archives.

An interesting transformation is happening in San Francisco: a former steam powerhouse and then MUNI substation in the historic Design District is currently under renovation to become a new facility for the San Francisco Animal Care & Control (SFACC) animal shelter. It will be a state-of-the-art, retrofitted building with modernized interior facilities.

This is an early view of the powerhouse as it looked in January 1904. Note the double smokestacks used to heat water for the steam-powered generators. SFMTA Photo Archive.

Constructed in 1893 and rich in San Francisco history, the historic brick structure is one of the city’s few remaining unreinforced masonry buildings of its time. Built by the Market Street Railway Company, this building has gone through several name, ownership and function changes over the decades but has always served as a power facility for public transit. Originally, the building housed large steam engines and generators used to power the company’s electric streetcar lines. The SFMTA Photo Archive wrote a great piece about the history of the substation, which you can find here.

SFACC is a taxpayer-funded, open-admission animal shelter. Since 1989, it has provided housing, care, and medical treatment to wild, exotic and domestic stray, lost, abandoned, sick, injured, and surrendered animals. Their current facility at 1200 15th Street was originally built as a warehouse in 1931 and renovated into an animal shelter in 1989. Since then, the standards for animal care and the number of animals they serve have changed dramatically, leaving their current facility woefully inadequate. The retrofitting/preservation of the Bryant Street Substation for SFACC’s new home will allow them to follow best practices in disease, noise, and odor control, improving the overall well-being and adoptability of the animals in their care.

According to their campaign brochure, the City of San Francisco has committed over $70 million to retrofitting the substation building and inside spaces for SFACC’s new shelter project. However, the organization is now turning to the generosity of the San Francisco community to help raise the final $4.3 million needed to complete the project and continue to fund the critical programs SFACC offers. During this time, the Friends of SFACC are exploring every avenue possible to advocate for this renovation/preservation project in an effort to raise awareness about the shelter and its future home.

Excerpt from SFACC’s campaign brochure, showing a rendering of their new facility. View the entire brochure here.

The restoration project is managed by the SF Department of Public Works as an interdepartmental collaboration and the expected completion date is Spring 2021. As part of the project, the SF Arts Commission held a call for submissions and selected a local artist to create murals in the lobby that will reflect the many species of animals that are helped by the city’s shelter.

You can help make SFACC’s new shelter a world-class facility by donating to Friends of SFACC, and learn more about supporting this campaign and the shelter’s programs on their website.

AdvocacyArchitecture SpotlightSouth of MarketBryant Street SubstationDesign District

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