RFR Holding tries to sell SF’s Hotel Whitcomb at discount price of $75M

Once used as city hall, property was pitched to potential buyer for $163K per room

RFR Holding lists historic Hotel Whitcomb, offers discount at $75M
RFR Holding's Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs; Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market Street (Getty, Loopnet)

RFR Holding has put its shuttered Hotel Whitcomb up for sale in San Francisco at a discounted price of $75 million.

The New York-based investor has listed the 113-year-old hotel at 1231 Market Street, in South of Market, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

RFR bought the 459-room hotel in 2018 for roughly $130 million, or $283,224 per key.

The eight-story Whitcomb was recently pitched to a potential buyer for $75 million, or $163,399 a key, a 42 percent discount, an unidentified source told the Business Times.

The 258,000-square-foot hotel has 14,000 square feet of meeting rooms, 30,000 square feet of ground floor shops, two food and beverage outlets and an onsite parking garage

The steel-and-concrete building, built in 1911, once served as San Francisco’s temporary city hall, with a city jail in its basement. Six years later, it was turned into a grand hotel. During World War II, it housed government officials administering the internment of Japanese Americans.

Known for flickering light fixtures and odd noises, some swear the historic hotel is haunted. 

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In March 2020, the Hotel Whitcomb closed to the public during the COVID-19 shutdown to serve as emergency housing for homeless residents, many with substance use disorders.

Last summer, RFR received a $19.5 million settlement from the city after seeking $28 million in renovation costs tied to damage caused during the state Project Homekey program.

The property’s 2018 sale was financed with a $113.7 million loan originated from an affiliate of New York-based Blackstone. The hotel is being marketed by Eastdil.

Hotel Whitcomb’s annual occupancy ranged from 71 percent to 75 percent between 2017 and 2019, according to the marketing brochure. Average rates ranged from $148 to $169, a discount from competitive nearby hotels. 

The hotel had a net operating income of $2.5 million in 2017 and 2019, and a loss of $700,000 in 2018, according to the Business Times.

— Dana Bartholomew

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