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The Mission’s ‘historic laundromat’ sold

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Though the owner previously demanded $18 million for the site near 24th Street BART, the final payday was less

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One of the strangest cycles in the history of San Francisco housing development stopped spinning this week as Mission Local reports that the “historic laundromat” at 2918 Mission sold to a new buyer earlier this month.

Former owner Robert Tillman confirmed the $13.5-million sale to hotelier Lawrence Lui via email. According to a Bloomberg profile, Lui is the president of Stanford Hotels, which operates the SFO Hilton.

The SF Department of Building Inspection’s records reveal that the Mission Street site comes with permits “to erect eight stories [of] residential units with retail,” issued in November of 2018.

Those permits came at the end of a years-long battle with City Hall over Tillman’s plan to demolish the Wash Land Laundromat, which he says wasn’t making enough money, and to build a 75-unit housing development in its place.

The bitter battle over the project led Tillman to sue the city, though he abandoned the legal showdown after eventually getting final approval on his construction plans.

The $13.5-million payday is more than the $9 million offer from the Mission Economic Development Agency, who once wanted to buy the site and turn it into affordable housing, but less than the $18 million that Tillman contended the property was worth at the time.

In February of this year, developer Maximus Real Estate offered to buy the laundromat and turn it over for similar subsidized development as part of a grand bargain to gets its own ambitious Mission development (the so-called “Monster in the Mission” on 16th Street) built.

The building’s sardonic “historic laundromat” nickname stems from a 2018 study the city conducted to determine whether the property should be preserved as a historic asset.

The concern at the time was not that the building itself might have historic value, but that as the building’s onetime offices of certain local activist and nonprofit groups it might be worth preserving.

This did not turn out to be the case, and the contemptuous shorthand term has stuck with the building ever since.