Owner of Russian bathhouse sues city over India Basin mixed-use housing development

View from Archimedes Banya's rooftop deck. | Photo: Desiree P./Yelp
By Nathan Falstreau - Published on December 12, 2018.

The owner of a Bayview-Hunters Point Russian bathhouse filed suit against the city this week over a development project slated for India Basin, alleging that construction and the tall residential buildings in the pipeline will harm the business, according to the Chronicle.

Archimedes Banya (748 Innes Ave.) owner Mikhail Brodsky said his customers come to the high-end spa as a retreat and for its waterfront views, which will be disrupted with the installation of large construction cranes, noise and dust. Brodsky also asserted that the planned housing units will block epatron's views of the water and San Francisco's skyline, and may violate guest privacy, as clothing is optional on portions of the property. 

Led by developer Build Inc., the India Basin project includes constructing 1,575 new homes with about 200,000 square feet of commercial space, and developing more than 15 acres of parks and open space.

Archimedes has been in business since 2011, though the owners purchased the land in 1999 "when no one wanted it," Brodsky told the paper. "We wanted the space and some fresh air ... now they are basically boxing us in." 

Rendering: Courtesy Build Inc.

The bathhouse was one of two original appellants of the proposed development earlier this year.

Nevertheless, the Board of Supervisors approved the mixed-use development project in October, certifying the environmental impact report (EIR) that will combine two existing parks with a long-vacant lot. 

Brodsky's lawsuit alleges that the EIR isn't valid because the developer added roughly 300 additional housing units without enough public notice, and as such, the city should update the report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Though the City Attorney's Office said in a statement that "the proposed project was thoroughly analyzed in accordance with the requirements of CEQA, and we intend to vigorously defend it in court." 

Despite the Banya's opposition, the project has garnered wide support from city officials and park advocacy groups. 

District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents the neighborhood and sponsored the project, earlier this year called the India Basin Park a "crown jewel of San Francisco's waterfront park system."

Mayor London Breed said the project "will transform an abandoned industrial site into an important community space that will serve Bayview residents and visitors from across the Bay Area."

And Maya Rodgers, cofounder of Parks 94124, said that the India Basin project is "an example of demonstrated commitment and collaboration." 

The City Attorney's Office and Cohen maintain that "the project will move forward as planned to provide housing and revitalization for our India Basin and Bayview communities," according to the Chron.

Brodsky also told the Chron that Build Inc. has offered to work with the Banya regarding its concerns, including possibly moving the business closer to the waterfront or working with the Planning Commission to change the building's zoning to make it taller. But he declined the developer's offers, believing that they were unfeasible.

Build Inc. declined to comment for this story. 

As the Chron notes, the developer is free to proceed with the project unless a court rules otherwise. Construction is expected to break ground in 2019 and wrap up in 2022.

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