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Mattsons continue Sonoma Valley buying spree

Real estate investors Ken and Stacy Mattson’s buying spree in Sonoma Valley now totals at least $120 million, including $15 million in new purchases in the last six months.

In total, the Piedmont couple’s name now appears on the deeds of almost 50 local properties, a total that doesn’t include any that might have been purchased using a blind trust.

Two recent real estate filings are particularly notable: the Mattsons’ purchase of a key Springs commercial building and the disclosure that in summer 2020 they paid less than half of the listed price to acquire the Sonoma Cheese Factory building at 2 W. Spain St.

In December 2020, in an off-market sale, the Mattsons quietly purchased 22 Boyes Blvd., the location of the long-vacant former Church Mouse thrift storefront and an active U.S. post office on Highway 12 in the center of Sonoma’s Springs neighborhood.

As for Sonoma’s iconic Cheese Factory building on the Plaza, the Viviani family listed the 7,100-square-foot Plaza building for sale for $4.28 million in May 2020 and the Mattsons paid $1.88 million in a transaction that closed in late August 2020, according to real estate documents obtained by the Index-Tribune.

An email request for comment from the sellers, the Viviani family trust, was not returned by press time.

Key commercial holdings

Some of the most notable purchases since that time, either by Ken and Stacy Mattson - under the name KS Mattson Trust - or through the real estate company LeFever Mattson, include Cornerstone Sonoma marketplace, Ramekins culinary school and the General's Daughter event space, the Leland Fishing Ranch property on Arnold Drive, the former Cocoa Planet building on Broadway, Cottage Inn & Spa in the downtown, the Mercado building on the Plaza, the Sojourn tasting room building on East Napa Street, the old Ravenswood Winery property, the Sonoma Cheese Factory and, most recently, the former Church Mouse building in the Springs.

Most of the properties were purchased off-market, meaning that the properties were not publicly listed for sale at the time. For the one property that was actively listed, Sonoma real estate agent Gina Clyde represented the Mattsons in the sale.

Once purchased, most of the Mattson commercial properties are overseen by an umbrella company called Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group, named after their first local commercial business purchase in 2016, Sonoma’s Best deli and cottages on East Napa Street. Story continues below map.

Mattson buying history

The Mattsons first began buying properties in Sonoma Valley in 2015. After visiting Sonoma for years as tourists, the Piedmont residents bought two 7,000-square-foot abandoned houses under construction on Moon Mountain Road. Mattson snapped up the property for just under $1 million and agreed to raze the site to improve the aesthetics of Highway 12. Six years later, two large new residences on the same site are still under construction but near completion.

In 2016, the KS Mattson Trust purchased Sonoma's Best deli and cottages on East Napa Street and Boyes Food Market and the so-called Lanning Structures on Highway 12.

The Mattsons community profile took a turn in 2018, when old social media posts of Stacy Mattson - since deleted - surfaced outraging the community over their anti-gay tenor.

Their pace of acquisitions picked up in 2019, with the Mattsons continuing to purchase residential and commercial properties, both inside the city limits and around the Valley.

As of press time, according to CoreLogic real estate reports, the Mattson name now appears on 48 Valley residential and commercial deeds totaling more than $120 million in acquisitions.

Ken and Stacy Mattson now own the bulk of the Mercato on the Plaza at 450 First St. E. in Sonoma. Photo: Lorna Sheridan.
Ken and Stacy Mattson now own the bulk of the Mercato on the Plaza at 450 First St. E. in Sonoma. Photo: Lorna Sheridan.

Two real estate agents familiar with the local market agreed that the Mattsons are now the largest, non-vineyard property owners in the Valley.

When asked In a 2018 interview with the Index-Tribune about the source of his deep well of real-estate finances, Ken Mattson merely described himself as a self-made man.

Plans for the properties

City of Sonoma planning Director David Storer told the Index-Tribune that he was not aware of any buildings permits with the Mattson name as applicant on them, approved or in process.

At the time of their purchase of the Cheese Factory in August, a representative for the Mattsons told the Index-Tribune that their Sonoma’s Best Hospitality Group plans to keep the Sonoma Cheese Factory name and “there are no significant changes planned to the building.”

PropertyDetails_2_W_Spain_St_Sonoma.pdf

The former Ramekins property at 450 W. Spain St. has been renamed the Seven Branches Venue and Inn, and it is currently open, as is the Sonoma Cheese Factory. The Mattsons also own 925 and 927 Broadway, the former home of a Subway franchise and the current location of Dirty Girl Donuts.

925 BroadwaySale.pdf

Among the many properties that the Mattsons have purchased that are currently not in active use are the former Leland Fishing Ranch in Schellville, the Cocoa Planet building on Broadway, the General’s Daughter on West Spain Street and the former Ravenswood property on Gehricke Road, to name a few.

Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey told the Index-Tribune that while Sonoma is always happy to welcome “new businesses and innovation” to Sonoma, he is concerned that the Mattsons appear to “have a strategy of purchasing properties, closing down the existing business, and holding the property until the land value goes up.”

A spokeswoman for the Mattsons, however, told the Index-Tribune that “nothing could be further from the truth.”

“We can’t get into specifics yet but there has been great forward momentum on several key projects and you will see a lot opening this year,” said a spokeswoman from the public relations firm Glodow Nead.

The Church Mouse property

Considered by many to be at the heart of the Springs, the large building at the corner of Boyes Boulevard and Sonoma Highway includes Highway 12 addresses along the roadside (including that of the Springs-area U.S. Post Office and a hair salon) but is listed as 22 Boyes Blvd. on country tax records. The Mattsons bought the 9,200-square-foot building (both front and back) in December 2020. The two large primary spaces, the two former Church Mouse storefronts, are both vacant.

22 Boyes BlvdSale.pdf

Harvey expressed concern about one entity owning so many properties in Sonoma, particularly those left vacant.

The Church Mouse building at the center of the Springs neighborhood. Photo: Lorna Sheridan
The Church Mouse building at the center of the Springs neighborhood. Photo: Lorna Sheridan

“Of course I support the right of citizens to purchase and sell property but the actions of groups like the Mattsons, much like the owners of unrented vacation homes, create externalities that can be harmful to our community and that we may need to look into a vacancy tax to address,” said Harvey. “We can't just have a town of boarded up storefronts and empty homes. Sonoma is a community, we must work to protect it.”

Gary Saperstein, owner of Out In The Vineyard, which hosts wine country events for the LGBTQ community, has been a vocal critic of the social views expressed by the Mattsons. He said that he keeps coming back to what the couple are doing in Sonoma and why?

Ken and Stacy Mattson named their hospitality portfolio after the Sonoma's Best deli, which was among their first business purchases in the Valley.
Ken and Stacy Mattson named their hospitality portfolio after the Sonoma's Best deli, which was among their first business purchases in the Valley.

"It is hard for me to separate their beliefs in being anti-gay and against women’s rights with their plans for buying up all these properties here,” said Saperstein. “They secretly go around making all these purchases and have not become a part of our community. What is the plan? Why so secretive?“

Reached by email, Ken Mattson provided this statement to the Index-Tribune:

“While it’s premature for us to comment, we are pleased to say that our plans for (the Boyes Bouelvard) property are moving forward in conjunction with the county. Together we look forward to furthering our collective vision by creating a vibrant corridor with the community plaza as its center piece.”

Mattson residential and commercial purchases (known, as of 5/1/21):

1870 Thornsberry Rd for $2.7 million

5120 Lovall Valley Loop Rd for $2.8 million

821 Lovall Valley Road for $4.26 million

405 London Way for for $4.65 million

22 Boyes Blvd (old Church Mouse) for $3 million

19450 Old Winery Rd for $1.75 million

424 Second St. W. for $1,100,000

528 Third. St W. for $950,000

230 E. Napa St. for $2.15 million

141 E. Napa St. for $2.05 million

870 E. Napa St. for $860,000

900 E. Napa St. for $1.975 million

1549 E. Napa St. for $2.45 million

1190 E. Napa St. for $2.675 million

19355 Seventh St. E for $8 million

19340 Seventh St. E for $3.2 million

20470 Eighth St. E. for $875,000.

24120 Arnold Drive for $4.75 million

23570 Arnold Drive for $18.05 million

24321 Arnold Drive for $1.65 million

450 W. Spain St. for $4.40 million

400 W. Spain St. for $2.229 million

2 W. Spain St. (Sonoma Cheese Factory) for $1.785 million

222 W. Spain St. for $2.6 million

430 W. Spain St. for $2.8 million

72 Wagner Road for $695,000

200 Wagner Road $0 (part of Cornerstone purchase)

969 Rachael Road for $5.95 million

18275 Sonoma Highway for $2.34 million

18285 Sonoma Highway for $0 (part of 18275 deal)

921 Broadway for $2.5 million

925 and 927 Broadway (old Subway, Quick Stop) for $1.9 million

450 First St. E. Unit B for $1.55 million

450 First St E Unit G for $750,000

450 First St E. for $1.55 million

450 First St. E. Unit J for $1.17 million

452 First St. E. Unit C for $1.950 million

310 First St. E. Unit E for $3.48 million

72 Moon Mountain Road for $925,000

74 Moon Mountain Road for $0 (part of 72 Moon Mountain Rd. deal)

443 Casabonne Lane for $400,000

18701 Gehricke Road (Ravenswood) for $7.5 million

424 Second St. W. for $1.1 million

282 Patten St. for $1.325 million

771 Fifth St. E. for $800,000

1221 Apple Tree Court for $1.4 million

1200 Apple Tree Court for $1.09 million

1025 Napa Rd. for $875,000

Source: CoreLogic

Map note: Mattson properties are marked in purple.

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.

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