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San Francisco Business Times

Housing the homeless: Preview of restored San Francisco YMCA

by J.K. Dineen

Where else but San Francisco would a registered national landmark undergo a $94 million renovation to house chronically homeless people? Cahill Contractors is almost done restoring the Italian-Renaissance structure to its long-faded glory.

The former YMCA Hotel at 220 Golden Gate Ave. in the Tenderloin will be renamed Kelly Cullen Community (after the late director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp.) and will permanently house 174 chronic homeless individuals when construction is completed later this year.

Designed by McDougall Brothers Architects, the former YMCA was dedicated by President Howard Taft during its grand opening in 1909.

The edifice will be formally listed in the National Register of Historic Places when construction is complete, according to San Francisco Architectural Heritage.

The project, designed by Gelfand Partners Architects and developed by TNDC, includes the restoration and replacement of the balusters in the main atrium. The a two-story lobby with glass atrium has been restored, as have the grand staircase rising from the lobby, the original gym and indoor track, the historic “boys entrance” and the auditorium with mezzanine seating.

When tenants begin moving in by December, the building will have a health and wellness center operated by the Department of Public Health. The 230-square-foot single residency units include kitchenettes and bathrooms. Amenities include lounges, laundry facilities and a landscaped roof deck.

The renovated jewel is “a living embodiment of the linkage between homelessness and health,” TNDC Executive Director Donald Falk told the group of architects touring the project.