A historic bookstore that faced eviction in San Francisco’s Fillmore District could get a reprieve if supporters can raise $1 million to buy the building from its new owners.
Marcus Books has been in danger of shutting down since its building at 1712 Fillmore St. was bought at a foreclosure sale in April by real estate investors Nishan and Suhaila Sweis.
But the proprietors of the bookstore announced Thursday that they have come to an agreement with the Sweis family to stay in the building, which would be purchased for $2.6 million by the San Francisco Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that seeks to create permanent affordable housing for low-income residents.
The catch is that the group has to raise $1 million by the end of February to save the bookstore, which opened in 1960 and has hosted numerous notable black writers and leaders, including Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and James Baldwin.
“Anything is possible, that’s our credo,” said Greg Johnson, a co-owner of the bookstore. “We will carry on.”
Westside Community Services, a local nonprofit, has offered $1.65 million for the purchase.
The SFCLT is seeking to raise the additional money via Fundrise.com, a crowdsourcing platform for real estate investment that will provide investors with 4 percent annual interest over a two-year term, said Tracy Parent, director of the land trust.
Currently, investments on the site can only be made by “accredited investors,” those with annual incomes of $200,000 or more or a net income of at least at least $1 million, Parent said.
She said the group is currently looking for a way to incorporate smaller donations into the fundraising effort.
Joseph Sweis, whose parents own the building, was at Thursday’s announcement and said the family is in favor of the agreement.
“The property meant much more for someone else,” he said. “We’re rooting for them and we hope they hit their goal.”
If the money is not raised by Feb. 28, the bookstore has agreed to vacate the premises and the building would revert to ownership by the Sweises.
More information on the land trust can be found online at www.sfclt.org.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News