NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A unique and often joked about fixture on Norfolk’s bayfront is headed to the history books, in that it is slated for demolition.

The Soaps n Suds “Laundromat Lounge” that for decades has allowed those washing clothes to take in Chesapeake Bay views on a beachfront deck, closed in October and has already been internally gutted by its longtime owners.

On Tuesday, Norfolk City Council voted to purchase the property for $1.8 million. It’s a move that has been a longtime goal for those looking to continue revitalizing and changing the perception of a community that’s long battled a negative perception.

The 1950-built building that housed Soap n’ Suds Laundromat Lounge at 200 W. Ocean View Ave, could soon be purchased by the City of Norfolk and leveled. (Courtesy: City of Norfolk)

The building that sits at 200 Ocean View Avenue was built in 1950 and has been owned by Soaps N Suds co-owners George and Anthony Polyzos since 1993, according to property records.

Announcement of its closure saddened customers who called the business “unique.” One woman wrote on Facebook that she’ll miss “sitting in the back on the deck looking out at the beach.”

“We started Soaps N Suds with the goal of creating an older-style laundromat feel, with a lounge area and snacks, but in the contemporary age,” George Polyzos told the OysterPointer in 2020. The Polyzos didn’t immediately return request for comment on why they are choosing to sell.

The 1950-built building that housed Soap n’ Suds Laundromat Lounge at 200 W. Ocean View Ave, could soon be purchased by the City of Norfolk and leveled. (WAVY Photo/Corby Slaughter)

Councilman Tommy Smigiel, who was born and raised in Ocean View and represents the area on city council, has often referred to the business as “probably the only waterfront laundromat in all of America.”

In many communities, developable property with access to unobstructed views of the water are usually reserved for either larger hospitality or residential uses that contribute more to the tax rolls.

In recent years, Smigiel has been at the forefront of the city’s effort to buy up and demolish older, decaying buildings in the area in an effort to reenvision the area in a “more positive, eye pleasing image.”

“There are people who are saying we don’t want to be known as a place where there are prostitutes and you can get mugged,” Smigiel said in 2018.

Greenies Beach Bar & Grill was one such property. The infamous watering hole sat next door to the laundromat was bought by the city for $2 million in 2018 and demolished.

The initial plan called for it to be initially replaced by the expansion of Ocean View Beach Park. Dune restoration began earlier this year and construction of a longer beachfront walkway and possible event space in the Greenies site is expected to occur sometime next year.

In phase two the city is also considering the possibility of bringing a restaurant back to the Greenie’s site, with options for smaller or bigger restaurants.

Smigiel said the laundromat property will now be incorporated into that overall vision.

“We got a really good deal on this,” Smigiel said.

Smigiel said the city will be paying the appraised value for the land. The city has assessed the more than half-an-acre site at $1.2 million.

The city isn’t actually buying the land by the Polyzos brothers. Rather Level Realty, LLC is buying the land and then reselling to the city.

While no record of the LLC was listed on Virginia’s State Corporation Commission, Smigiel said Treveor Spiers with The Pathway Realty Group is involved with the deal. He said they initially wanted to put apartments on the site.

Spiers was not immediately available for comment on why he changed course.

Chris Jones, a spokesperson for the city, said community input will continue.

“I’ll note that the final design of the site remains a work in progress; the exact layout will differ but this reflects the intent in the development,” Jones said. “City staff and stakeholders are still working through options in advance of a pending presentation before the Ocean View Task Force scheduled to take place in mid-December.”

A rendering of a possible Ocean View Beach Park expansion. (Courtesy: City of Norfolk)