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Marcus Books strikes deal with owners to stay in Fillmore

The owners of a Fillmore Street building said they would not to evict Marcus Books, but the bookstore must raise $1 million.
December 5, 2013 6:37:54 PM PST
The nation's oldest black-owned bookstore has a new chance for survival. San Francisco's Marcus Books was being evicted, but on Thursday the details of a deal to keep it in place were unveiled.

In a city with a diminishing African-American population, Marcus Books is a community treasure. And now it will take a lot of love and money -- $1 million to keep the San Francisco bookstore in its historic Fillmore Street location.

"If we do accomplish this, and I should say when we do accomplish this, because we are going to do this, this will be a rare victory for retaining cultural diversity in our city," said Julian Davis, the Marcus Books attorney.

A legal battle began when the building was sold in bankruptcy court last year. The buyers tried to evict the bookstore, but its owners and supporters held protests and petitioned city hall.

On Thursday, the son of the new property owners Joe Sweis said they've struck a deal. He said, "We found that the property meant much more to someone else and we thought let's come together for a win-win situation where they can retain the property and keep their business here and we can move on to another property that suits us."

His family will be paid fair market value - $2.6 million. A non-profit has already offered $1.6 million. Now another, the San Francisco Community Land Trust, will use a crowd-investing approach - Fundrise.com to try to come up with the rest.

"We are going to use this new platform to raise investments, investors across San Francisco and even the nation to help us achieve the acquisition," said Tracy Parent, from the San Francisco Community Land Trust.

If they don't come up with the money, the owners of Marcus Books have agreed to give up the fight and leave, but they say they don't expect to have to.

"If indeed it's about love, respect and support, then the $1 million is just $1 million," said Gregory Johnson, the Marcus Books owner.

The deadline is February 28th.


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