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Potentially historic Mission laundromat was home to ’70s neighborhood groups

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Does past use make the property a historic resource?

Designs for a would-be mixed use building at the cite of a present Mission laundromat. Courtesy BuzzBuzzHome

Last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to delay the construction of 75 new homes in a mixed-use development just south of the 24th Street BART station. The reason—so the city can spend four to five months studying whether or not the building has any historic significance.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who introduced the deferral but not the appeal behind it, told Curbed SF, “This is a question for the Planning Department—they asked me to make the continuance. [...] It is standard practice for the Supervisor of the District to make a motion to continue an item when planning makes the request and both parties are in agreement.”

Ronen added, “Planning has the power to pull the project without my consent and did that in one instance when I refused to request a continuance because the parties were not in agreement.”

SF Weekly reported Monday, clearing up the mystery: It’s not the Wash Land laundromat itself that petitioner Calle 24 cares about preserving, but rather the previous uses of the building going back to the 1970s:

Between 1973 and 1985, the building appears to have been occupied by advocacy organizations named Mission Hiring Hall, the Mission Housing Development Corporation, Mission Child Care Consortium, the Mission Model Neighborhood Corporation, and Mission Community Legal Defense. Some of these groups still operate at other addresses, others have disbanded.

The Mission Hiring Hall is a non-profit that offers job training and counseling to “moderate and low-income job seekers in San Francisco,” founded in 1971. The Mission Housing Development Corporation is an affordable housing developer also founded in 1971, not to be confused with the similarly named Mission Economic Development Association.

The Mission Childcare Consortium is a non-profit preschool, while the Mission Model Neighborhood Corporation was a neighborhood planning authority created under President Lyndon Johnson’s Model Cities program, now extinct for decades. Mission Community Legal Defense was a law office for low-income San Franciscans founded by late activist Miguel Quiroz.

Courtesy MEDA

That is admittedly a lot of neighborhood groups and resources to filter through one building, although the 5,200-square-foot structure has had any number of tenants since its construction in 1924. Whether or not this counts as historicity or trivia is the subject of the ongoing study.

Ronen commented last week that even building owner and would-be developer Robert Tillman consented to the study, on account of he wanted to leave no uncertainty about the building prior to its planned demolition.

Tillman has been trying to redevelop the space since at least 2014 and has more than doubled the amount of planned housing at the site, although his larger design ended up drawing complaints from some neighbors about the scale of the proposed eight-story structure.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal again on June 19.