The five-year attempt to raze a laundromat and build a fancy apartment high-rise enters a new cycle, though attempts to stop the development have dried up.
Of the many, many, contentious development controversies that San Francisco has seen in the current real estate and development boom, few have drawn as much public curiosity as the attempt to raze and redevelop a property that has acquired the bizarre nickname of “historic laundromat.” A simple coin-op laundromat at 2918 Mission Street (at 25th) has been the center of a years-long controversy pitting community activists against the property’s owner and would-be developer Robert Tillman over the size of the project, the destruction of an allegedly historic resource, and the development’s possible impacts on an adjacent preschool. Mission Local estimates the sale price at $13.2 million, which Curbed has confirmed with owner Robert Tillman via email.
Media coverage of the saga has generally referred to the building as the “historic laundromat,” an allusion to the somewhat spurious “historic resource” claims that opponents used in attempt to thwart the project in early 2018. But the “historic” argument turned out to be rather weak sauce; a few culturally significant nonprofits had operated at the address in the 1970s and 80s, yet nothing physically remained of them. Instead, the project was tripped up and successfully delayed over the shadows it might cast on the next-door Zaida T. Rodriguez Early Education School. This led Tillman to sue the city, but he withdrew the lawsuit after quietly getting Planning Commission approval last year.
When reached for comment, Tillman told Mission Local on Wednesday “I can’t talk about” because “I’m under NDA,” but colorfully added “I feel like I’ve had migraine for five years and asked myself, ‘I feel so good — what’s missing?’”
He was more specific in February when he told Mission Local, “I just want to sell my property, get the best price for it, and move on.”
This probably does not mark a victory for opponents of the eight-story high-rise like Calle 24 and other Mission District activists, as we simply have a new developer with the permits in place that Tillman fought for the last five years. New owner Lawrence Lui is the president of a luxury hotel chain and a residential development firm, so the 75-unit development (and it’s mere eight below-market-rate affordable apartments) is likely to get built anyway, simply with a different owner.