The Mission District site of the “historic laundromat” has a proud new owner: Lawrence Lui.
Robert Tillman, the 13-year owner of the laundromat at 2918 Mission St., closed the sale with Lui on April 11. Based on the recorded transfer tax of $371,250, Lui acquired the property for around $13.5 million.
Lui was not immediately available for comment. But Tillman spent five years getting the site approved for an eight-story, 75-unit building; these entitlements all but certainly enhanced the property’s value.
“I feel like I’ve had migraine for five years and asked myself, ‘I feel so good — what’s missing?’” Tillman told Mission Local on Wednesday, offering no further details. “I’m under NDA” — a non-disclosure agreement — “and I can’t talk about” the deal.
The sale is the ostensible final chapter in a saga that exposed the worst of planning and development in San Francisco. Despite community concerns about dropping a nearly 90-percent market-rate building into the heart of the gentrifying Mission, Tillman steadfastly refused to go to the bargaining table with community groups, augment the percentage of affordable housing on the site, or include additional community benefits.
After finally receiving approval from the city last October, Tillman unabashedly said: “I just want to sell my property, get the best price for it, and move on.” This month, that happened.
Tillman’s unapologetic and single-minded crusade to line up the biggest bang for his buck prompted criticism from city officials, most notably Supervisor Hillary Ronen. The city delayed Tillman’s plans on multiple occasions: In 2018 he was made to underwrite a 137-page study examining if the laundromat was a “historic resource” (it was not).
Later that year, his project was put on hold so more work could be done to analyze the impact of potential future shadows across an adjacent school’s playgrounds — at hours it would be open to the public if that school was participating in the city’s San Francisco Shared Schoolyard Project. It is not.
The sale to Lui also all but certainly precludes another potentially bizarre twist to the saga of the historic laundromat. A developer perhaps even more reviled by the local community than Tillman — Maximus Real Estate Partners — had said it would purchase the land and offer it the city as part of its community benefits package for its proposed 331-unit project at 16th and Mission. Now it appears even less likely that’ll happen.
Lui’s company, Stanford Hotels, owns 12 hotels around the country, with one currently in development in Seattle. Lui also owns Cresleigh Development, which has proposed several ambitious projects in San Francisco, but has not yet brought them to fruition.