San Francisco Art Studio Owner Grateful for SBA Assistance Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Steven Allen, owner of SMAart Gallery and Studio in San Francisco eagerly waits for business to return to normal.  He started his business in 2012 to fulfill his lifelong dream of having a place to learn, share, and create art. He purchased a condo in San Francisco to gain stability for his business. He wanted peace of mind knowing that the space was his, his occupancy costs were stable, and no landlord could uproot him without warning, a scenario all too common for San Francisco businesses.

Allen, an award-winning ceramic sculptor, was able to achieve this peace of mind in February of 2020 thanks to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 504 Program, which enabled him to become a property owner with only a 10 percent down payment.

“I utilized the SBA 504 Program because of the low down payment. Being able to retain working capital was so helpful. If I didn’t take advantage of the SBA 504 program, I would have been looking at a down payment of about 30 percent.”

The SBA loan financed the $1.4 million acquisition of a 2,480 square foot condo located at 3135 24th St. in San Francisco. Allen also obtained a historically low SBA 504 interest rate, fixed for 25 years. Bruce Whitaker of TMC Financing facilitated the SBA portion of the deal.

“Steve has such a special business,” states Whitaker. “He is a passionate artist and wants to share his passion with the San Francisco community. I was thrilled we could secure financing that would allow him to purchase a home for his studio. Property ownership has given Steven stable operating costs and a valuable asset that will be beneficial for years to come. He was also able to tailor the space to work best for his business.”

The space consists of three areas. There is gallery exhibit space, studio space, and community space for ceramic classes and team events.

“Shortly after we purchased the condo, covid hit,” stated Allen. “When we were allowed to open, we adapted our business model to offer outdoor classes and more private space with barriers so artists can work independently and safely. Business is down 75 to 85 percent though so the debt forgiveness from the SBA was extremely helpful.”

The SBA gave existing SBA borrowers six months of debt forgiveness in the 2020 CARES Act. In the new legislation that passed, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, qualified borrowers will be able to receive an additional six months of debt forgiveness.

“On top of the unbeatable terms of the 504 loan – the other great thing about the program is that the SBA has your back something crazy, like the coronavirus, happens,” states Whitaker. “The debt forgiveness plus the expanded refinancing options included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act will help many of our cherished small businesses survive.”

To learn more about SMAart Gallery and Studio, to sign up for a ceramics class, or book an appointment to view their gallery, visit their website.