San Francisco breaks ground on new rec center

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gene friend

California Construction News staff writer

A groundbreaking was held last week at the Eugene L. Friend Recreation Center project is in San Francisco.

Construction of the new center is projected for mid-2026.

The $59 million project at 270 6th Street is a 25,000 sq. ft. center with a gymnasium, two full size basketball courts and a new entry on Harriet Street.

Mark Cavagnero Associates, in a joint venture with Kuth Ranieri Architects, designed the new center.

“As a firm based in San Francisco, we are deeply committed to supporting the Bay Area community through impactful projects, like the Eugene L. Friend Rec Center, that knit together our civic fabric,” said Mark Cavagnero, founding principal of Mark Cavagnero Associates. “We worked with Kuth Ranieri Architects to conceive of the new building as a neighborhood beacon that will provide greater access to public amenities and create an enclave for play within the South of Market district.”

“We look forward to beginning construction on the project site in the coming weeks and for the center to open in 2026.”

The design features a modern exercise area, a kitchenette, reception area and office, and two multi-purpose rooms connected to both the entry lobby and new exterior playground. Additional outdoor amenities in the dense urban area include a picnic area and sport court, all complemented by new landscaping and lighting.

“Today marks a significant step forward for the Gene Friend Recreation Center and the South of Market community,” said District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey. “We’re not just renovating a building, we’re transforming this space into a dynamic community hub where thousands of youth, families, and seniors can engage and build lasting connections.

“This groundbreaking isn’t just a construction project — it’s a promise to create a functional, inclusive space that will serve our neighborhood and its communities for generations.”

The Health and Recovery Bond approved with more than 70% approval, provided $30 million for the project.

Built in 1990, the original rec centre is located in the heart of the SoMa Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

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