LaundryMat Business May Be Washed Up

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Laundromats are being wrung out to drythroughout the city, but some Upper West Siders are fighting back. After watching two neighborhood laundromats close—one on West 75th Street, and another on West 72nd Street—several residents began a petition to keep one of the few remaining coin-operated facilities in business.

Ansonia Dry Cleaners & Laundromat, which runs its two businesses out of separate storefronts, has been on West 74th Street and Broadway for more than a decade. But with the owner in negotiations with the landlord, there was no certainty that it would be there much longer.

“It is the only [laundromat] around for blocks,” local resident Gretchen Berger told Crain’s. “Many of us in the area were freaking out that it was going to shut down.” She noted that many large buildings in the neighborhood now provide in-house laundry facilities. Of course,not everyone lives in those buildings.

Ms. Berger does not, which is why she and others are petitioning to keep the Ansonia laundromat in business. More than 200 signatures later, the business remains, but owner Brian, who declined to provide his surname, said he is still in limbo, dependent on his landlord’s decision. Brokerage Newmark Grubb Knight Frank Retail began marketing a 12,000-square-foot retail space at 2109 Broadway, including 2,200 square feet on the ground floor, in December. A call to the sales office for comment was not returned.

“For coin operators, it’s just not profitable anymore,” said Brian, noting that real estate taxes and rent have gone up several times over his 11 years at the Upper West Side location. “We cannot raise the [washer price that much].” Currently charging $3.50 for a large wash—which is competitive with other laundromats—he said business is down about 30% over last year. Brian expects he will be consolidating his dry-cleaning and coin-operated business into one space eventually.

“A lot of people want us to keep it, but … the business doesn’t [produce] that much volume,” he said.

The number of coin-operated laundries licensed by the city has dropped 10% to 2,570 in the past decade, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs.

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