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California businessman “done” with studies; files suit

It is, without a doubt, rare to see a laundromat designated as a historic building in California (or anywhere else for that matter). The Wash Club in San Francisco is no exception, though the owner was compelled by the Board of Supervisors there to fund a $23,000 study to determine if the structure should be designated historic. The 137-page analysis came to a conclusion that could have been squeezed down to a single word: no.

The owner says he wants to raze the laundromat and replace it with an 8-story, 75-unit housing project. He also says he’s done with studies (he was recently order to fund studies to determine if shadows cast by his proposed tower will effect a nearby school’s playground). He recently filed a lawsuit against the city to allow him to begin construction of his housing development.

“I’m not paying for any more studies,” the laundromat owner told an area publication. “I’m done.”

He claims that a particular supervisor is allied with special interests that want to acquire his property at a discount; failing that, they want to stop his proposed project.

The lawsuit is asking that the board’s early-summer order to study the effects of the shadows be invalidated, as well as its July vote to ratify the order. It also asks the court to bar the city from demanding more affordable housing in the proposed project. Currently, the owner proposes to designate a little more than 10 percent of the units for affordable housing.

Property owners, developers, contractors and others can protect their rights and interests by having on their side an attorney experienced in commercial real estate litigation and negotations.