The castle in the Mission District has been sold.
According to the San Francisco Business Times, a developer purchased San Francisco’s National Guard Armory, one of two 4,000-capacity spaces for live music in the city, for a $65 million. The Chicago-based developer, Benjamin Weprin, worked previously with Soho House, a private club and hotel operator.
The sale puts the Armory’s future as a music venue in limbo, says current Armory director of events Audrey Joseph. In charge of the venue since 2015, Joseph told local news blog 48 Hills that she and the rest of her team at Armory Events will be out by the end of March. She added that a major concert promotion company is “angling” to take over the Armory, but would only be able to contract with the venue for a year.
Some suggest that the company Joseph refers to is Goldenvoice, the company behind the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival who recently took over booking for local clubs the Great American Music Hall and Slim’s, and who is currently promoting shows by Lil Uzi Vert and Erykah Badu at the Armory.
“It’s strange because we have huge events coming up here,” Joseph told 48 Hills. In addition to Uzi Vert and Badu, the Armory’s event calendar includes “the Opel party, a bunch of corporate events. We’re working our asses off. So really, I cannot say I know anything exactly that’s going on, other than the last week of March we’re out.”
The sale somewhat confirms reports last year that Soho House aimed to purchase the venue, as Weprin helped develop a former belt factory into the Chicago Soho House. The Welprin-affiliated company SF Armory LLC completed the purchase on Jan. 26.
The $65 million price tag could mean previous owner Peter Acworth made quite a profit. Acworth bought the century-old castle-like building in 2006 for $14.5 million to host his BDSM website, Kink.com. As free Internet porn and political pushes to require condom use in porn undercut Kink’s profitability, Kink.com stopped filming at the Armory and Acworth moved to turn the hall into office space and a music venue — with Joseph’s help.
But the transition wasn’t cheap: not only did Acworth pay millions to convert the space into a music venue, he helped finance the campaign against San Francisco’s Proposition I, which would’ve limited the Armory’s concert calendar.
Calls and emails to AJ Capital Partners and Armory Events were not returned.
Built in 1914, the Armory originally housed the arsenal for local National Guardsmen. From the ’20s to the 40s, it served as a sports venue and was referred to as the “Madison Square Garden of the West.”