A century-old San Francisco power plant is being proposed as the site of a sprawling 2,600-home metropolis to quell the city’s housing shortage. Here’s what it will look like.

An entire section of San Francisco's southern bayfront once fueled the city's industrial economy. Now developers are banking on it to house residents.

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An entire section of San Francisco’s southern bayfront once fueled the city’s industrial economy. Now developers are banking on it to house residents.
source
Associate Capital
  • A former power plant in San Francisco is being proposed as the site of a 29-acre community that would add 2,600 homes to the city’s housing market over the next 16 years.
  • There would also be public parks, a 250-room hotel, and retail shops and restaurants.
  • The project just received approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission and now must pass through the city’s Board of Supervisors.
  • The Potrero Power Station sits on the city’s southern bayfront, a part of San Francisco that has seen a string of development projects in recent years.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A developer is proposing to transform a former San Francisco power station – that’s been said to be one of California’s dirtiest – into a sprawling 29-acre waterfront metropolis.

The project, led by developer Associate Capital, includes sprawling public parks, a full-sized grocery store, childcare facilities, a homeless prenatal program, a YMCA, a catering kitchen, a soccer field, playgrounds, a hotel, and 2,600 housing units, all to be anchored by a 300-foot-tall “Stack” that has become a staple sight in the neighborhood.

The development is slated to roll out in six phases over the next 16 years, with “the bones” of what remains of the century-old power station to remain, according to CBS San Francisco. The project just received approval from the San Francisco Planning Commission, and now it must pass through the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The power plant sits in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a district sandwiched between the bayfront and Potrero Hill. This part of town used to be a shipbuilding hub, with industrial buildings filling its streets. It was a working-class neighborhood until developers turned their eyes to it starting in the 1990s.

Now it has been turned into a new, up-and-coming neighborhood. Software startup Gusto and ride-sharing giant Uber occupy separate sections of a cavernous, high-ceilinged former machine shop. Many other offices fill the district’s buildings. The industrial warehouses were turned into residential lofts. Furniture and clothing boutiques dot its blocks.

The city, under the direction of Mayor London Breed, has set a goal of 50,000 new homes to be built in San Francisco in the next ten years. This new project would alleviate a portion of that when and if it’s eventually completed.

Here’s what the final project would look like.


The former power plant sits four miles south of San Francisco’s Financial District.

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The power plant’s location.
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Google Maps/Business Insider

The power station site sits close to Third Street, where a transit route runs south to north into the city’s Financial District. Associate Capital would fund the extension of a bus line that would run into the power plant property. A water transit pilot program is also planned for the site, according to a press release.


From 1901 to 2010, the Nrg (pronounced like “energy”) Potrero Generating Station operated here.

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A historical photo of the plant taken at an unknown date.
source
Associate Capital

Until its closure, the fossil fuel power plant generated roughly one-third of the city’s power.

Over time, San Francisco adopted more efficient and environmentally-healthy practices and technologies. Residents decried the plant as an environmental hazard and fought for it to be closed, so Gov. Gavin Newsom shut it down in 2010.

Source: Curbed SF


Associate Capital purchased the site in 2016 and set forth pushing its grand plans through the city’s approval process.

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A rendering of the finished project.
source
Associate Capital

Source: Curbed SF


The project would be mainly residential, but there would also be space for retail, office, research, and development, and would include a 250-room hotel.

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A rendering of the finalized project.
source
Associate Capital

Source: CBS San Francisco and San Francisco Chronicle


The skeleton structures of the power station will be reworked into the development, with a former control room being considered as the site of a future bar.

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A rendering of the finalized project.
source
Associate Capital

Source: CBS San Francisco


Of the 2,600 proposed homes, 30% will be allocated for lower-income residents.

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A rendering of the finalized project.
source
Associate Capital

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


There are a few of these kinds of time-intensive, mixed-use waterfront projects slated to be developed in this part of the city.

An entire section of San Francisco's southern bayfront once fueled the city's industrial economy. Now developers are banking on it to house residents.

caption
An entire section of San Francisco’s southern bayfront once fueled the city’s industrial economy. Now developers are banking on it to house residents.
source
Associate Capital

Another is planned for the nearby Pier 70. The development is in the works and is expected to add up to 3,000 housing units, 30% of which would be allocated for lower-income residents.

To the south is a development project for Hunter’s Point, the San Francisco shipyard that was once home to secret nuclear radiation testing. There’s some debate around if contaminants remain even after a cleanup was conducted. Homes have been built and more have been approved by the city, but falsified soil samples and pending litigation have stalled the project, which also includes the nearby Candlestick Point, the former home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers.

This sliver of waterfront property – and views – has been somewhat disconnected from the public. The Potrero Power Station project is just one seeking to fix that.