Ken Mattson started small — with a big eyesore.
After coming to Sonoma for years as a tourist, the Piedmont resident’s first purchase in Sonoma Valley was the two water-logged and abandoned 7,000-square-foot houses on Moon Mountain Road. Mattson snapped up the property in 2015 for just under $1 million and agreed to raze the site immediately to improve the aesthetics of Highway 12. Two large new residences on the same site now near completion.
He soon began to seek out other properties around Sonoma that he believed were underutilized but held high potential. In 2016, he purchased Sonoma’s Best deli and cottages on East Napa Street and Boyes Food Market and the “Lanning Structures” on Highway 12.
His pace has picked up since then. Mattson has quietly been purchasing residential and commercial properties as well as vacant lots, both inside the city limits and around the Valley. As of press time, according to CoreLogic real estate reports, he now owns all or part of 26 Valley properties totaling almost $80 million.
Two estate agents familiar with the local market agreed that Mattson is now one of the largest (non-vineyard) landowners in the Valley.
Most notable, have been Mattson’s purchases, through his real estate company, LeFever Mattson, of Cornerstone Sonoma marketplace, Ramekins culinary school and the General’s Daughter event space from Kenwood Investments.
But Mattson also now owns Leland Fishing Ranch property on Arnold Drive, the old Cocoa Plant building on Broadway, Cottage Inn & Spa downtown, a portion of the Mercado property on the Plaza, the Sojourn tasting room building on East Napa, and the list goes on.
The Cornerstone deal
Mattson told the Index-Tribune that he specializes in identifying underutilized assets.
“Not under-valued,” he said with a laugh, acknowledging Sonoma’s high real estate prices, “under-utilized.”
In order to maximize the potential of the Cornerstone property, LeFever Mattson purchased the nearby 13-acre Leland Fly Fishing Ranch for $4.75 million and Mattson said he hopes to one day make that property “part of the Cornerstone experience.”
In order to maximize the potential of the Ramekins and General’s Daughter properties, LeFever Mattson last week purchased the large barn behind the properties as well as some neighboring residences. He said that he purchased the Cottage Inn and Spa to have access to its hotel staff.
Sonoma’s Best project
Mattson’s seemingly random residential purchases around Sonoma’s Best relate to his desire to take advantage of the store’s location at the head of the much-anticipated bike trail that will someday run from Eighth Street East all the way up to Santa Rosa. His purchases related to the bike trail include three parcels near the intersection of Lovall Valley Road and Seventh Street East totaling 10 acres and almost $15 million. His acquisition of a house on Apple Tree Court behind Sonoma’s Best will improve access to the bike path and add parking.
“We’re working with the county to make the bike trail a reality from the store through the Springs as quickly as possible,” said Mattson. “You’ll be able to park your bike safely at Sonoma’s Best, or your car across the street, and bike into town – stop to eat, visit places in the Springs and make a complete day of it.”
Up Highway 12, Mattson’s Springs project centers around the transformation of Boyes Food Market into a sister property to Sonoma’s Best, to be called Boyes’ Best. Up the road, his “Noodle Springs” container complex is still in the works – with an estimated opening this summer.
Mattson’s Sonoma portfolio (as of April 4)
230 E. Napa St., $2.15 million
141 E. Napa St., $2.05 million
870 E. Napa St., $860,000
900 E. Napa St., $1.975 million
19355 Seventh St. E $8 million
19340 Seventh St. E $3.2 million
24120 Arnold Drive $4.75 million
450 W. Spain St., $4.40 million
400 W. Spain St., $2.229 million
72 Wagner Road $695,000
23570 Arnold Drive, $18.05 million
200 Wagner Road, $0 (part of Cornerstone purchase)
969 Rachael Road, $5.95 million
18275 Sonoma Highway, $2.34 million
18285 Sonoma Highway, $0 (part of 18275 deal)
1200 Apple Tree Court, $1.09 million
1190 E. Napa St., $2.675 million
921 Broadway, $2.5 million
821 Lovall Valley Road, $4.26 million
450 First St. E., Unit J, $1.17 million
452 First St. E., Unit C, $1.950 million
310 First St. E., Unit E, $3.48 million
72 Moon Mountain Road, $925,000
74 Moon Mountain Road, $0 (part of 72 Moon Mountain deal)
443 Casabonne Lane, $400,000
430 W. Spain St., $2.8 million
This story originally appeared on SonomaNews.com, also part of the Sonoma Media Investments news network.