Porn director to start shooting here in a week 

Mayor Gavin Newsom has said he wants to bring movie production back to San Francisco. But Kink.com’s selection of bondage and other fetish films was probably not what he had in mind. Within a week, founder Peter Acworth said the film company will be producing pornographic fetish films at the abandoned State Armory at Mission and 14th streets.

Acworth purchased the property for $14.5 million on Dec. 29 from Bar-K Mortgage with little fanfare, but the prospect of a porn empire being established so close to homes, schools and businesses drew ire from residents. The Kink.com studio is housed at 942 Mission St.

The armory, one of the largest vacant buildings in The City, has sat empty for years, drawing homeless people, graffiti artists and vandals. It was the center of Mission gentrification wars during the dot-com boom as the previous owner attempted to build market-rate condos on the site but abandoned the idea after facing community opposition.

Mission residents and businesses have complained that the sale to Kink.com was done with little community input, but as a private sale, no legal requirements for public discourse were required. And since the movie production will not require any zoning changes, as the condos would have, city agencies — such as the Planning Commission — have little control over the private use of the building.

Acworth and members of the Missions Merchant’s Association met on Jan. 16, and Acworth said he felt the group’s questions and concerns were addressed. At the meeting, he stressed that Armory Studios would help clean up the building and improve the city block that it inhabits.

However, the Mayor’s Office announced Monday that it is working with the Planning Commission to hold a series of public meetings about the armory amid a large number of complaints about Kink.com’s purchase of the building.

"Members of the community and residents have come forward and said that they don’t feel they’ve had the opportunity to have their voices heard on this sale and on the project," mayoral spokesman Peter Ragone said. "It won’t necessarily stop the project from happening but it will give the owners a chance to hear what the community feels."

"I think it will be great, it’s exactly what we need," Acworth said on Monday. "I welcome this. Hopefully it will diffuse some of the fear."

Acworth said he hopes the studio can be a part of Newsom’s efforts to bring filmmaking back to San Francisco, and part of Armory Studios will be dedicated to providing space and technology to all filmmakers.

After its peak in 1996, filmmaking in San Francisco has dwindled, and Newsom has made it a priority to bring productions back to The City. Following the passage of a number of movie production tax incentives instituted in 2005, the industry still failed to rebound, with no major movie productions taking place in The City in 2006.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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