Porn company opens its doors for community center


It was four years ago that took over an old National Guard armory at Mission and 14th Street and the area wasn't exactly welcoming. But the CEO is not only willing to bury the hatchet, he now wants people to come here and enjoy themselves.

The man behind bondage images would also like to be the man who brings farmers' markets and fairs to the community.

"It is funny I guess to have them next to each other, but there's a big wall between the two buildings," says CEO Peter Acworth.

Acworth's company makes hundreds of movies a year inside his 200,000-square-foot building. He says he doesn't need all this space and would like to see the National Guard's old drill court become a community center.

"Sort of a Fort Mason-type place where one week there might be a farmers' market, you know, the next month there might be a flea market and in the interim it might get used for sports practice," says Acworth.

It's a bold move for someone who initially wasn't welcome here.

"I am shocked because the first engagement that we had with him and that whole process was not nice," says community activist Roberto Hernandez.

Hernandez and others were hoping to get something to enhance the community, like housing, inside the old National Guard armory. But Acworth has worked hard to win over his neighbors.

"When I moved in here, everyone thought we were going to be the bad sleazy guys, there was going to be prostitution on the street, but that's not the reality," says Acworth.

He's cleaned up graffiti and broken windows. He decorates the building with holiday lights and flags. He even donated $5,000 to his next door neighbor -- the non-profit Arriba Juntos.

"And believe me, I was like shocked to see how great of a person and timid he is," says Dalila Ahumada, the Arriba Juntos executive director.

The productions are made down in the basement behind sound proof curtains. They're hidden so well, people who attended a fair here recently were disappointed.

"People were so curious about what we do they bought tours and we raised $6,000 for charity through selling tours of the rest of the building," says Acworth.

His toughest critics now say, bring on the community center.

"I love it. I think it's great to have a venue here in our community that could be good use to our community as well as San Francisco and the greater Bay Area," said Hernandez.

Acworth's intention is to hold events once a month at first and maybe more frequently down the road. He hopes to have the building's old drill court up and running by April.

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