SF building owner blames deteriorating neighborhood for inability to refinance $2.5M loan

30 banks have already turned him down

SF Building Owner Says Banks Won’t Return Calls to Refinance $2.5M Loan
Mark Sackett with 1069 Howard Street (LinkedIn, Google Maps, Getty)

A building owner in San Francisco is trying to hang on, despite owing millions of dollars on a mortgage due early next year and what he says is a deteriorating neighborhood that has gotten only worse since the pandemic.

Mark Sackett, owner of a South of Market building housing the Box SF — a printmaker, antiques shop, and events venue — is trying to refinance a $2.5 million mortgage due in February, the San Francisco Chronicle reported

Sackett’s building at 1069 Howard St. is set for auction on Jan. 24, a move he anticipates will result in the closure of all his businesses. The extensive collection of antiques, including items dating back to the 1800s, may be sold off in an estate auction.

Sackett attributes his financial woes to widespread drug use, violence, and filthy streets in the neighborhood, exacerbated by the challenges posed by the pandemic. 

Despite his attempts to refinance, 30 lenders have declined to assist him, with six citing the unfavorable state of San Francisco as a reason for not providing commercial real estate loans.

The building owner cites a nearby drug sobering center as a source of issues, with individuals allegedly smoking fentanyl at his building’s loading dock. Sackett’s staff has resorted to using pepper spray to fend off break-ins, and he personally faced an attack with a knife. The constant need for repairs, coupled with declining revenue, has left him in a precarious position.

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Sackett claims to have tried improving the area through initiatives like a commissioned mural and added planters, but the efforts have been overshadowed by persistent challenges like needles and feces. Despite his struggles, he alleges receiving no assistance from the city and expresses frustration at the focus on issues like bike lanes and safe injection sites while small businesses are ignored.

While Sackett acknowledges a partial recovery in business, prospective clients are deterred from booking events due to perceived safety concerns in the neighborhood. He estimates a loss of almost $250,000 in revenue this year due to cancellations or clients declining to book events.

Supervisor Matt Dorsey, representing the district, acknowledges the challenges faced by businesses in SoMa and expresses optimism about progress but notes that recovery for many businesses is not happening fast enough. Rising interest rates and declining business have added to the difficulties faced by property owners trying to repay mortgages in the current economic climate.

Sackett purchased the historic building, formerly the Hearst printing plant, in 2004 for $1.6 million.

Despite the challenges posed, he wants to stay in San Francisco.

“I’m trying to hold on,” he told the outlet. “I love my city.”

— Ted Glanzer

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