Laundromat to reopen

July 8, 2011
By

HYDE SQ.—The laundromat at 410 Centre St. whose closure last month sparked concerns of gentrification will reopen soon, according to landlord John Demopoulos, whose own family will operate it.

“New machines—everything [will be] new,” said Demopoulos on June 22 while standing outside the former Jamaica Plain Laundry Centre, its old washers and dryers gone and the interior in the midst of refurbishment. “It will come back. The business will be exactly the same as before.”

The only difference will be the name, which will change back to Jamaica Plain Laundramat—one of two names, both eccentrically spelled, that appear on two different signs on the storefront.

The exact opening day is up in the air, said Demopoulos, adding that one of his family members likely will manage the laundromat.

Demopoulos said he previously ran the laundromat, starting when he bought the building in 1983 until about 2001, when he sold the business to Jay Buchta.

Buchta did not respond to a Gazette message left at the laundromat in its final days and could not be reached for comment. A laundromat employee previously told the Gazette that a rent dispute was responsible for the business’s closure. Nobel Garcia, owner of the adjacent El Oriental de Cuba restaurant, previously told the Gazette that he had heard a 100 to 200 percent rent increase was involved.

Demopoulos, who has an unlisted phone number and was not previously available for comment, declined to say exactly why the previous owners closed shop. But, he added, he was charging $2,700 a month for the 1,500-square-foot space, and indicated he was seeking an increase of about $100 a month more.

“Jay is a nice guy,” Demopoulos said. He expressed displeasure only with the fact that farewell signs hung on the laundromat after its closure made no mention of his plans to reopen it. He has since posted signs saying the laundromat will return under new management.

The laundromat was known as a staple service business and hang-out spot in Hyde Square. Demopoulos said it had been in operation for about 40 years before he bought the building.

The laundromat sits across the street from the former Hi-Lo supermarket, where a Whole Foods Market is moving in. The laundromat’s looming closure was first publicized by an anti-Whole Foods activist who learned of it while handing out flyers. But prior to the closure, a laundromat employee told the Gazette that Whole Foods had nothing to do with the rent dispute.

Demopoulos told the Gazette that he thinks Whole Foods will be a good addition to the area and will not inspire landlords to raise rents. Demopoulos said that he had a 12-year tenant in the residential units above the laundromat whose rent he had never raised.

“Why raise rents if you have good tenants?” he said.

  • JP Guest

    What really happened here?  I see a lot of unanswered questions.  It would be helpful if Jay Buchta would comment on what happened.  Did Demopoulos really only raise rents by $100 a month?  Why would that drive the former business to close?  What has happened to the old management (the Latino family and their child, the other two managers…), where are they now?  Would Demopoulos hire them back?  How long is Demopoulos planning on running the laundromat?  If there is no lease involved, he can rent it to another business whenever he wants.  Does he plan on keeping the laundromat there for a long time, or until another business comes along to rent the space that will be more profitable for him?

    • JLJP

      I think as a private business / landlord transaction Mr. Demopoulos really doesn’t owe anyone any explanation for anything.  

      • Guest

        Jason Lagorga, I have to disagree.  John Demopoulos should have a heart, and so should we all.  Caring for the hard-working Latino family and two other managers who bottom-lined the long shifts of the former JP Laundry Center, caring for low-income renters of JP who don’t have access to laundry facilities in their apartments — that’s the kind of neighborly approach he should have.  Whether he “owes” it legally to be a kind person is not the point; being a kind person is the neighborly thing to do.

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