Kink Fights Plans to Construct Building Adjacent to Armory

SAN FRANCISCO— founder Peter Acworth has spent many years and a lot of money creating good will in the community surrounding the San Francisco Armory, which he purchased in 2006 as the new home and production facilities for his business. A culminating aspect of the campaign to become a bona fide good neighbor is a plan to make the Armory’s huge drill court into a community center capable of holding more than 4,000 people.

But a proposal by real estate developers currently being considered by the city to build an apartment building at 49 Julian Avenue, immediately adjacent to the Armory, while not quite threatening the community center plans, is nonetheless throwing a big wrench into the works. According to a brief recently submitted by Acworth to the city’s Historic Preservation Committee, if the five-story, 50-foot high building is approved, the impact on the drill court in terms of its ability to put on the sorts of events being planned will be seriously impacted.

Acworth, who told AVN that one of his core concerns is that “the proposed development would place neighbors so close that they would be likely to complain during events,” identifies three main issues with the current development plans:

1. Loss of light—Light will be lost to south facing, historically and architecturally significant drill court windows.

2. Obfuscation of Curved roof—The signature curved roof will no longer be continuously visible from the exterior.

3. Incompatible adjacent Use—The proposed development places housing 4 feet from the drill court, where Armory Studios has permitted work in progress to restore a place of legal assembly, with maximum occupancy 4080 persons.

Indeed, a series of graphics accompanying the brief indicate a significant lessening in the amount of light that will stream through the drill court windows if the apartment building is constructed as planned.

The brief also states, “All three issues would be partially mitigated if the development were required to adhere to new UMU (urban mixed use) zoning, since the resulting construction would have a height limit of 45’ (down from 50’).”

The current plans to build at 50 feet take advantage of grandfathered zoning that allows them to surpass the normal 45 foot height limit.

“If they fail to get the project approved under this zoning,” Acworth told AVN, “they will have to reduce to 45 feet. While still not great, this would mean two less units, and hence fewer residents placed so close.” is not asking the Historic Preservation Committee to recommend to the city Planning Commission that the building be scrapped altogether, but that it advise the “Commission to vote against the Conditional Use of Residential at 49 Julian, and thus any development at 49 Julian must adhere to the UMU requirements.”

The Planning Commission will consider the building proposal on Nov. 10, according to the San Francisco Examiner, which reported that most members of the Commission believe the project should be approved. brief to the S.F. Historic Preservation Committee can be accessed here.