Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sponser Letter, September 18th 2017

Dear Sponsors,

I've lots of entertaining news about what I've been up to recently but, before I get into that, I've a question for you.

Do you think that a location on Upper Haight Street (i.e. around Ashbury and the park) would work for the bookstore?

I'm looking at a property to buy on Haight Street and I think that it would work as a location, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.  As I see it, parking is about the same as our current location, as is local public transit service.  However, transit from outside SF is slightly worse (it's pretty far from BART and freeway access is not as good). Walking traffic is good (although not as good as Valencia St.)  But, the neighborhood "feels" more like our sort of place than Valencia (and the Mission in general) does nowadays.

Obviously, this would be dependent on the numbers working out, financing being possible, and the "bones" of the building being good, but all those things are looking promising so far.  Your thoughts are, as always, very much appreciated.

Buildings and the buying of them, has been the theme of my last month-and-a-half.  Since the last time I wrote, I've looked very seriously at three buildings that might be possible for the store, and I've made offers on two of them (both offers turned down, as you may guess).  I can't say much about the third building since that is still in play (and, for the same reason, I can't say anything about the building on Haight Street).  But I'm happy to tell you about the others.

The first one was a return to the building that I was looking at in the beginning of this year.  It's an odd one on Mission St. (2965 Mission to be precise).  We came back to it because the seller seemed open to a price that was more reasonable.  Last time, they were asking 2.5 million and I offered 1.6 (which was very low but was also where the math worked out).  They came back with an offer of 2.4 and so we said thanks but; no.  Last month my realtor got in touch with them (because the building still hadn't sold - it went on the market in October of last year) and asked if they would be open to talking about another offer.  After a bit of back and forth, they said they were open to something under 2 million.  After some thought, I decided we could offer 1.75 million.  We did and they (rather unprofessionally) declined.  But, that one is still on the table.  Neither I nor my realtor think that they're going to get much interest at their asking price and so, in a few months, we might come back to them.

The lack of success there is both good and bad.  The building is kind of weird in that it's two narrow but deep store fronts with a two-story building at the rear of the lot. The yard between the two buildings was covered over at some point in the past but it was a pretty poor job.  And there were two unpermitted apartments built into the rear building.  We would have to do a lot of work to make the whole place legal and workable for the store so taking it on would be a hassle.

But, the total square footage is 3500, which is almost twice the current bookstore.  The location is excellent with great public transit access, very good freeway access, good foot traffic and close to many other neat businesses.  And, both buildings were unusual.  The front structure is 1920s art-deco with much of the original plaster work inside and the rear building was an old livery stable (probably from the 1890s).  All in all, a headache but a really neat one with plenty of character.

The other building that I looked at was kind of weird right out of the gate.  Before I could get any information about it from the listing realtor, they insisted that I sign a non-disclosure agreement (which was a first for both me and my realtor).  I'm not going to break that agreement here but I can tell you all the public information on the property.  The building is at 3901 18th St. and so it's only five blocks westerly from our current location.  It is a single story building with two retail store fronts, one a cafe and the other a nail salon.  The size is good (around 2700 square feet) but the layout was awkward.  The price, however, was hard to beat -- 1.3 million.  So, we started the process of getting details about the building and ran into that silly NDA thing.  We dealt with that and then heard nothing for days and days.  Finally, we decided to jump-start the process by sending in an offer at 1.25 million.  That finally produced a reply.  Informally the listing realtor told my realtor that they had already received and turned down offers in the neighborhood of 15% over the listing price.  At that price, the limitations in the building made it much less attractive so we walked.

My realtor and I have been joking about there being a pattern to the buildings we offer on -- specifically that the building will, for one reason or another, not be "straight-forward" and then the seller and/or the agent will do some strange stuff.  Thus far we've had a seller who seems to not be very interested in selling the building (pro tip here: if a building has been on the market for almost a frickin' _year_, the price is probably too high and you should lower it), a seller who lists a building at a price far below the amount that they'll accept (which is a waste of everyone's time), realtors who are slow to respond to actual buyers (three of those so far, and I think we might be headed to number four), and it goes on and on.

Seriously though, that pattern isn't surprising to me.  What we're looking for is an odd sort of property and we're in an odd situation as buyers in that we're planning on being owner-occupiers, we're actively searching for older buildings with some problems (since those problems lower the price and I've got the skills / contacts to sort out most kinds of problems), and we're trying to do this on a shoe-string budget.  I'm very grateful that our realtor is willing to work with us, has a boatload of experience, and understands that this is going to be a long process.

That's about all my news for now.  I'll have more to tell you about the building process next month, as well as information about our 20th anniversary party (which will be epic) and other upcoming events.

All Best,

The scattered showers version:

(1) Tuesday, September 26th at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Cocktails.  Who doesn't love drinking at Churchill?  We will definitely be out again this month at the same location and time to enjoy the company of fellow sponsors.  Meet us at Churchill, 198 Church Street at Market Street.

(2) Thursday, October 5th at 7:00 pm - Advance Preview of "BladeRunner 2049" at the Balboa Theatre, thanks to SF in SF.

(3) Monday, October 9th at 7:00 pm - Sponsor Game Night.  Join us to hang out and bring your favorite game!

(4) Sunday, October 22nd at 2:00pm -- Sponsor Picnic at Golden Gate Park. A (hopefully) sunny day in the park with grill and friends.

The deluge of biblical proportions version:

(1) Tuesday, September 26th at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Cocktails.  Our next Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night will be at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) <http://www.churchillsf.com/>; some combination of us will be there from at least 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm.  No need to RSVP and any number of guests and friends are welcome.  The bar is INCREDIBLY convenient to public transit -- the MUNI Metro Underground (via F, K, L, and M lines at Church Street,) and J and N lines stop less than a block away.

(2) Thursday, October 5th at 7:00 pm - Advance Preview of "BladeRunner 2049" at the Balboa Theatre, Balboa Theatre 3630 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA  94121.  SF in SF is hosting a sneak preview of BLADE RUNNER 2049!  In appreciation of our sponsors, Rina Weisman at SF in SF is giving you first crack at tickets for this show, available only via SF in SF.  This will be a sell-out, so you'll want to get your tickets early!  Program starts promptly at 7:00 pm, with special guest Paul Sammon, who wrote FUTURE NOIR: THE MAKING OF BLADE RUNNER, (the ultimate reference tool for fans of the movie).  Paul will give a half hour talk, and answer questions and sign books after the movie in the lobby.  Borderlands Books will be on hand with his book, as well as other PKD titles.​  Film begins at exactly 7:30 pm.  Note - Sponsors may purchase up to a maximum of six tickets each, so please bring your friends.  Tickets will be $8.50 each.  Payment via Venmo​​ or ​PayPal (please choose "send to friends or family option") to sfinsfevents@gmail.com.  Rina Weisman will be in the lobby as of 6:15PM to the left of the box office with your ticket(s).  If you are buying tix for more than one person, you will need to collect all tix at the same time​.  For more info, email sfinsfevents@gmail.com

(3) Monday, October 9th at 7:00 pm - Sponsor Game Night.  Join fellow sponsors & "game" staff for chess, Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, Pictionary, or whatever other board games you'd like to bring to play!  Please bring games that have a usual play-cycle of less than 3 hours, so probably NOT Monopoly, Seven Ages, Arkham Horror, or The Longest Day (that's the Normandy Invasion strategy game that takes an average of 90 hours to play).  Are you a secret Balderdash champion?  Kick butt at Connect 4?  Here's your chance to shine!  Feel free to bring your favorite beverage to share.  Also, you're welcome to bring food if you wish -- the cafe will be shutting down at eight.  No need to RSVP, and please feel free to invite your friends along, as there really isn't any limit to the number of folks we can accommodate -- the more the merrier.

(4) Sunday, October 22nd at 2:00pm -- Sponsor Picnic at Golden Gate Park

BBQ Picnic in Golden Gate Park.  We are once again braving the outside world for a potluck cookout celebrating "Summer" in San Francisco. We're taking our October Sponsor event to Golden Gate Park, on Sunday, October 22nd at 2pm.  We have high hopes that we won't be shivering and shrouded in fog.  We've reserved table #1 in Lindley Meadow.  Directions are at the link below, but the short version is that Lindley Meadow is on the south side of JFK Drive, across from the 30th Avenue and Fulton Street entrance in Golden Gate Park.  (At 30th Avenue and JFK, there is a sign for Lindley Meadow.)  http://sfrecpark.org/destination/golden-gate-park/ggp-lindley-meadow-picnic-area/ . Please note that several streets are closed in the park on Sundays and parking is often challenging.

Bring something to put on the grill or something to share as a side; bring your picnic blanket and a frisbee, and probably a jacket for possibly unpredictable summer weather.  Wine and beer are fine to bring but, please, no liquor and no glass, per the Park's request.  Friends and guests (including children) are super welcome so please do bring 'em along.  If you're planning on coming, please let us know at sponsors@borderlands-books.com