Most any neighborhood would want a place like the Dogpatch Hub, “a communal space with no barriers to entry,” according to Friends of the Dogpatch Hub’s (FoDH) mission statement. Yet the Hub has had to overcome multiple barriers over its six-year quest to become a reality.
Calling it a “flex space” and “your community living room,” a July 2016 Potrero View article, “Dogpatch Neighbors Eye Historic Building as Possible Community Center,” indicates that the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association (DNA) conceived the idea because it had no regular space to hold its meetings. Moreover, the neighborhood’s population was growing, and with it the need for communal space.
Current DNA President Katherine Doumani led early efforts to create the Dogpatch Hub. Advocates researched rehabilitating out-of-use municipal properties, notified politicians and bureaucrats of community interest, developed draft budgets and secured neighborhood endorsements. They established a nonprofit, FoDH to see the project through.
As for many San Franciscans, finding a home has been difficult. The first building considered for the Hub was the long derelict police station at Third and 20th streets. As Dogpatch had no municipally owned, public-serving spaces, FoDH hoped the City would repurpose the station into a community facility. Parties advocated for the Hub at a 2018 Police Commission meeting.
Designated as surplus, the building should have been used for affordable housing based on Proposition K, passed in 2015. However, according to the Council of Community Housing Organizers (CCHO), because of competing interests in the structure, including for use as the Hub, the nonprofit Old Skool Café, and as a renovated police facility, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development didn’t consider the site. According to the City Assessor’s Office the still unused building remains under San Francisco Police Department ownership.
In 2020, FoDH shifted its attention to the Kneass Building, located at 651 Illinois Street, on the border of Crane Cove Park. In 2021 the San Francisco Port Commission, which owns the edifice, declined FoDH’s proposal, asserting that it didn’t meet the Commission’s goals for the structure.
Now, the Hub has finally found a home. Friends of the Dogpatch Hub are finalizing a lease for 1278 Minnesota Street, close to 24th, across from the Minnesota Street Project, itself an art hub. It’s a 4,000 square feet ground floor space with a mezzanine, American Disability Act-compliant restrooms, elevator, kitchenette, and five parking spaces. FoDH is considering various uses for different areas, including gear lending and storage. Programming is being designed in collaboration with local schools, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. The Hub is expected to open by the end of this year.
Significant funds have been raised to support the facility, including $4.2 million from the University of California, San Francisco, $2.5 million from Associate Capital, a century-old real estate that’s developing The Power Station, $2.1 million from Brookfield Properties, which is redeveloping Pier 70, as well as monies from supportive Dogpatch residents.
According to the Dogpatch Hub 2023 prospectus, FoDH already has the “equity investment needed to furnish, open and operate the Dogpatch Hub.” Structured as a nonprofit, FoDH foresees an “operational model for the Hub over a ten-year period using a combination of fees from programs, earned interest, gifts, grants and donations.”
In excess of 300 Dogpatch residents who responded to a 2021 survey favored creation of the Hub. Of those, 92 percent lived in the neighborhood, a diverse age range was represented, and more than half had children at home.