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Activists Buy SoMa Edwardian Apartments for $1M, Gift to Tenants

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City, non-profit, and private lenders helped front the money

How do you curb eviction in the city? A million dollars at a time, apparently.

That’s how much the San Francisco Community Land Trust paid to buy a five-unit Edwardian-style apartment building at 7th Street and Natoma on behalf of the tenants. The entire building went on the market in August of last year for $998,000. After 228 days, the non-profit scooped it up for a few thousand dollars over the list price.

The 3,606-square-foot building dates to 1906, and the ads listed it as a "hot SoMa property in the vibrant Mid Market social media neighborhood." Which is a bit of a half truth, since the lots at 568-570 Natoma Street are closer to the Skid Row intersection at 6th Street and Mission than the soon-to-be hot spots closer to Van Ness and Market.

Nevertheless, there was a very real possibility of someone deciding it was a good place for some new condos. The Land Trust raised the money with the help of the city’s Small Site Acquisition Program (formed in 2014 to save 5-25 units buildings for middle class renters) and a loan from Boston Private, the private bank whose San Francisco office also put up part of the money used to buy the Precita Eyes studio on behalf of those tenants last month.

The sale went through last week. Tenants and activists held a small, celebratory ceremony in front of the building this morning to mark the occasion. The Land Trust will hang onto ownership of the land, but the tenants will form a co-op to manage the running and maintenance of the building.

The three-story Natoma Street building has one large, four-bedroom unit at street-level, plus "Romeo-style" one-bedroom apartments above it. At $281 per square foot, it’s a pretty decent bargain, particularly if you happen to live there already.