February 9, 2007
QuickLinks: Our Enlightened City Hits The Journal*
∙ No Condos, Please: Old Armory Finds New Life in Porn [WSJ]
∙ 50 protest porn business inside old Mission Street armory [SFGate]
∙ From (Proposed) Condos To Kink [SocketSite]
*Note: Full credit to a tipster for the headline.
First Published: February 9, 2007 9:03 AM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
From the SFArmory.com FAQ:
"Why was the proposal to build condominiums abandoned?
The condo proposal suffered from at least 2 major hurdles. 1) community activists argued that the proposal did not include enough affordable housing and 2) the notions of constructing a new building in the drill court and building rooftop penthouses were not liked by some members of the Landmarks Preservation Board."
Posted by: Michael at February 9, 2007 9:15 AM
I never cease to be amazed by just how ridiculous the politics are in this city. The building has been empty for 37 years, neighborhood 'activists' have shot down any attempt to use it for housing, and now they are upset over its being used by the same company that has been shooting videos only NINE BLOCKS AWAY from the current site.
I was watching their protests last night on TV and its the activists bringing attention to the site. No one will even pay the building or its use any attention once the picketers go away.
The neighborhood got what it deserved by being overly greedy and demanding of past attempts to use the building for housing. Now they can live with the result.
It will be the same getting of 'just desserts' if the Trinity Plaza deal falls through because of two headline greedy supervisors.
Posted by: CameronRex at February 9, 2007 10:08 AM
In the Bay Guardian, the Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition denies any responsibility for the fate of the Armory.
It's odd that they want people to think that all of their protests and lobbying against office and condo development at the Armory had no influence. The Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition was co-founded by Chris Daly, who now represents (on the Board of Supervisors) the north Mission, where the Armory is located. Daly participated in the Armory protests, which included breaking up a reception for developers and city officials at the Armory, before he was elected to the Board.
MAC opposed every commercial and residential use of the building that was proposed by the Armory's various owners.
(I happen to have no objection to Kink.com owning the Armory-- it's better than the building sitting empty. But the passing-the-buck now by MAC is amusing.)
Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2007 10:12 AM
This is the preditable result of befuddled neighborhood activism that combines a strange sense of entitlement with contempt for private property rights. The activists may have "wanted" low-cost housing, non-profit space, or a recreation center, but they never owned the property and most certainly weren't about to PAY for their idealized uses. So now they're confronted with an owner who paid $14 million for the property and plans to do with it as he sees fit. It's obviously an inferior use of the building, but there's some poetic justice to it. And besides, the owner plans on cleaning the graffiti, installing lighting and planting trees. That's better than the wretched status quo.
Posted by: zzzzzzzz at February 9, 2007 10:32 AM
Wait a minute! Why say that because the Amory housing proposal was shot down, the neighborhood gets "what it deserves". If this building were in the Marina, would the neighborhood there allow it to go condo, OR would they insist that it become an asset to the community such as museum/performance space or neighborhood center?
"The Palace of Fine Arts needs repairs? I know, let's turn it into condos!"
There are many possible dynamic uses for this building that would really help the Mission if the city would only take more of an interest. Sometimes building condos is not the only answer for how to help a neighborhood. I am all for building housing ALL OVER THE CITY, but some feel this building is a landmark , and I think it could be used in ways similar to what Chicago or Boston did with their Armory buildings.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2007 10:36 AM
Oh please, Anonymous at 10:36am, the city won't spend the money required for those dynamic other uses (in fact they don't have such money to spend) and is perfectly happy to see the current situation transpire. It would be the neighborhood participation in the Marina that would lead to a better use there -- the activists in the Mission shot down anything but their impossible socialist dreams for this site. And there is zero similarity between the Palace of Fine Arts and the blank fortress that is the Armory. Too bad, but it's way too late for citing Chicago or Boston's armory adaptations, which for one thing don't have to deal with seismic retrofitting costs.
Posted by: Tom at February 9, 2007 10:45 AM
I do not agree with the neighborhood activists that you refer to, and do not feel the Armory is suitable for some "socialist" housing experiment. Is San Francisco really in such fragile economic shape that it cannot afford to use this space in a more creative way that would benefit the area? My comments are to those who think that the only option for the Armory was condos. BTW, I actually think the Armory is as interesting in its own way as the Palace of Fine Arts.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2007 10:57 AM
It's true that condos are not the solution to all problems, but they were not the only option considered. In the past decade, proposals for dot-com office space and server farms were shot down as well by these same activists. So in this case, the activists did in fact get what they deserved.
Posted by: M at February 9, 2007 11:09 AM
"Is San Francisco really in such fragile economic shape that it cannot afford to use this space in a more creative way that would benefit the area?"
Yes, and no. As with most conversations themed on wealth and poverty, the issue is not really about what's in the city coffers, but how it is distributed. Our city is in horrible economic shape, most of which is attributable to bad, wasteful government.
"zzzzzz" hit the nail on the head. SF city activists always have very strong opinions about what other people should do with their property, but god forbid their views result them bearing any responsibility for it, fiscal or otherwise.
Posted by: SeeHsee at February 9, 2007 11:11 AM
Who owned the building?
[Editor's Note: Bar-K Mortgage was the seller.]
Posted by: kathleen at February 9, 2007 11:17 AM
Well, after reading "M"'s sfgate story posted above, I am beginning to think maybe the neighborhood and San Francisco do get "what it deserves" regarding a porn plant in the Armory.
I had no idea how long this battle has been going on (I am rather new to Bay Area) and cannot believe how many plans were destroyed for the most bizarre reasons. I am afraid I spoke to soon with my 10:36am post this morning, and maybe a lesson will be learned from this by various nimby groups in the future.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2007 12:46 PM
I find it interesting that the Guardian story refers to Beyond Chron as one of the "reactionary" forces that's unhappy about the use of the Armory as porn factory. The fact is that Beyond Chron and its editor (Randy Shaw) are second to none when it comes to uber-lefty political correctness. Interesting that even some of the progs have come to see the folly of it all, and hopefully (as others have pointed out) this will serve as lesson for future land-use battles.
Posted by: zzzzzzzzzz at February 9, 2007 1:19 PM
There's more info on the history of the armory on SFist:
There's also a link to the Beyond Chron piece, which doesn't strike me as "reactionary" at all.
Posted by: Phil at February 9, 2007 1:37 PM
The irony of the situation really is beautiful but the bottom line is the land has been sold and is private property. As I understand it, the pornography use falls within the zoning. Activists have fought every use and finally a player comes in with the funds to purchase and a use that is wihtin zoning and they are still bickering....insanity
Posted by: anon at February 9, 2007 2:20 PM
I love how the these "neighborhood activists" are so self absorbed that they feel that a private property owner should come to them to ASK if its ok to use the private property he purchased the way he wants. Seriously, there is no limit to the delusions of San Francisco's NIMBY's. Get over yourselves people.
You reap what you sow.
Posted by: Joe at February 9, 2007 2:28 PM
I have to agree that the advocates have gone too far on this one. There have been plenty of opportunities to take action and because they made it too difficult to make a honest buck that everyone got out and left it to the seller to finally sell it to someone who met the zoning requirements without headaches. Good for them.
Posted by: wayne at February 9, 2007 2:58 PM
I find it amusing that so many of you consider the presense of Kink.com as some form of "punishment" for the various interests preventing development of the Armory. Talk about irony; maybe you should just rent a kink film instead of imagining punishment for neighborhood activists. What exactly do you NIMBYS and speculators imagine Kink will do to the neighborhood that's not already the case? Draw sex workers? Meth dealers? Married suburban men cruising by in the their minivans? I am psyched to see Kink take the space. In fact, they should collaborate with other porn producers and create a virtual porn castle. Come to think of it, that might actually make that neighborhood an appealing place to live.
Posted by: Christopher at February 9, 2007 3:32 PM
Great idea for a new Kink.com bondage film, Christopher! The various anti-gentrification and affordable housing activists, NIMBYs, foolish speculators, city bureaucrats and others are tied up along the walls of the Armory's drill court, awaiting floggings by Socketsite's armchair critics. The sight of Chris Daly struggling against taut rope, squirming as he awaits flogging by realtors, would sell thousands of subscriptions. A portion of the proceeds could go to provide affordable Kink.com subscriptions to those who cannot afford market rate.
Posted by: Dan at February 9, 2007 3:48 PM
That's the most effing brilliant idea I've heard on this forum to date!!
Posted by: Anonymous at February 10, 2007 5:55 PM