Streams

Say Goodbye to Manhattan's Gas Stations (Here's A Map to Find One)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The number of gas stations around the country has been declining in recent years, and one place that's been hit particularly hard is Manhattan.

In 2004, the borough had more than 60 places to fill up, but now there are just 39. Fuel prices and consolidation are driving the nationwide trend, but in Manhattan, it's all about real estate. 

"It's kind of like the gas station has a red flag on it that says: 'Call me. I'm the next site,'" said Adelaide Polsinelli, a broker with the real estate investment firm Eastern Consolidated. 

Thanks to skyrocketing real estate prices, Manhattan gas stations are worth much more than the money the owner can make selling gas. Last year, a Getty near the High Line sold for $23.5 million. A few months later, another station in the borough went for $25 million.

Developers love gas stations because they're on corners and along major thoroughfares, and in a town of skyscrapers, their one-story buildings are easy to tear down.

"You see everything that was once industrial — auto body shops, garages, gas stations — and now they're all holes in the ground with cranes in them," Polsinelli said. 

A recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal showed that more than 20 Manhattan gas stations have closed since 2003, almost all of them on the West Side. Of the 12 remaining stations below 96th Street, seven of them are in Midtown West, Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. 

That puts them into the orbit of the High Line and Hudson Yards, two projects that are radically reshaping the surrounding districts. 

"The West Side is going to be better than any other neighborhood," Polsinelli said. "There will be no land left unturned."

Farther downtown, two other stations are already on their last legs. The BP at Houston and Lafayette is expected to close this year to make way for a seven-story retail and office complex. A Mobil Station in Alphabet City is also expected to close shop. 

"The hardest place to find gas is definitely in Manhattan," said Dawn Cole, an accounts receivable manager who drives from Harlem to Lower Manhattan every day. 

In December, the BP at 110th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard — a block from Cole's apartment — closed down to make way for a residential tower. She had been filling her tank there for 19 years, but now she drives 30 minutes to another BP in the Bronx.  

"I shouldn't have to drive to another borough," she said.

The gas station shortage is even more of a problem for cab drivers who typically fill up their tanks once per shift. 

Cabbies can lose $40 to $60 waiting in line for gas, and they run the risk of late fees if they don't return their cars to the depot on time, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

"If I don't have to waste time being in the line, I could have worked for another hour. People could get extra ride. I could get extra money in the pocket at least as much as I spent to fill up my gas tank," said taxi driver Mehmud Zafar.

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Comments [35]

AMHess from Harlem

@Chuck Baggett

I'm not sure if it's been done with residential (who would want to live above a gas station?) but there is a church in Rosslyn, Virginia with a gas station on the ground floor.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/1472/photo-of-the-day-church-of-the-unleaded/

May. 29 2014 12:21 PM
AMHess from Harlem

The story takes an almost nostalgic tone toward gas stations rather than talking about the negatives that they bring to the neighborhood. People who live by them have to breathe toxic fumes and exhaust, and the constant vehicle traffic across the sidewalk presents a major hazard to pedestrians (I had numerous close calls with cars driving into/out of that station at 110th/FDB, not to mention the tractor-trailer fuel trucks). Add to that the risk of explosion and fire, and gas stations do not make good neighbors. I say good riddance. The reporter also does not ask Ms. Cole why she drives from Harlem to the Financial District, a route that is extremely well-served by transit, nor why she feels entitled to convenient gas at the rest of our expense.

I feel some sympathy for taxi drivers, but there are still so many stations around the city. More efficient hybrid/electric cars are the best way to prevent the mid-shift fill-up problem. This story leaves a lot to be desired in terms of journalism.

May. 29 2014 12:14 PM
Chuck Baggett

If you replace a gas station with a high rise can you put a gas station on the ground floor of the high rise? Is that OK with zoning and building codes and such?

May. 29 2014 12:40 AM

Will this result in more taxis becoming hybrids to save on gas? That would be great, and fulfill a Bloomberg goal.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/10/6538091/combusted-death-hybrid-taxis-new-york?page=all

May. 21 2014 07:47 PM
Alan

Noooooooo, where can I go to get hit by a car while walking down a sidewalk now?!

May. 21 2014 07:06 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I'm not against electric cars, I just can't afford one myself, and the same may go for something remote like a hybrid. Unfortunately, there are those such as myself who can only get around with a car. Perhaps, the person mentioned works late at night, so she needs a car to get back home considering how bad the transit is at the time she's done. BTW, when it comes to major deliveries, a motor vehicle is needed, and I doubt that any of them can just carry them easily on public transportation or bicycles. When was the last time you saw a plumber, repairman, electrician, or any other utility workers come to your place either public transportation or bicycle when you called for them? The answer is probably never. When stores or restaurants need to stock up, they need trucks, because they can do it in one trip compared to anything else. As for having a car free city, it's not very realistic considering that motor vehicles provide so much. Again, look at the causes rather than effects on this. Having a lack of gas stations in one borough will just force more to go to another in create long lines there when the process goes for them as well.

May. 21 2014 07:01 PM
Bronx from NYC

Statement: "If electric cars were affordable to those of my income, I would have gotten one already, but that's not the case. Even an electric car would need a place to recharge, and a number of extension cords from where you live won't do that. Either way, I don't drive a major gas guzzler, I drive a compact car that is very energy efficient, which means that it uses less gas when driving rather than more. Unfortunately, not all taxis are hybrids, so they will need gas, though even hybrids require that as well. Still, I don't get how a gas station in Manhattan is bad, plus I never got what exactly is prime real estate. Although taxi drivers can save by going into NJ to fill up, which some already do, they will have to pay a toll to come back, and for some of them, that will probably come out of their paycheck. The truth is that motor vehicles are still needed in dense urban areas because space is small, so a lot of what's needed has to be transported considering the fact that NYC hasn't had an active farm for decades within its own limits. Just like the WNBA, the car culture isn't going away anytime soon. BTW, try looking for the causes to why some of are driving on a regular basis rather than the effects, and then you will see why we need a car to get around a lot before you start making your anti-car bias."

Response: City vehicles and taxis should be mandated to require electric powered vehicles. Not personally owned autos at this time.

There are also plenty of gas stations left in the boroughs, too many in most cases but there's decline in that sector as well.

Statement: "The truth is that motor vehicles are still needed in dense urban areas because space is small"

Response: This makes absolutely no sense. Urban areas require better mass transit and more walking/bicycling.

What I believe your trying to say is that most freight still requires trucks in the NYC area. Right now, yes. However, that does not exclude city and taxi vehicles from a electric requirement. The federal government should go a step forward and mandate all commercial autos electric if our politicians gave a damn about our future.

May. 21 2014 06:34 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

If electric cars were affordable to those of my income, I would have gotten one already, but that's not the case. Even an electric car would need a place to recharge, and a number of extension cords from where you live won't do that. Either way, I don't drive a major gas guzzler, I drive a compact car that is very energy efficient, which means that it uses less gas when driving rather than more. Unfortunately, not all taxis are hybrids, so they will need gas, though even hybrids require that as well. Still, I don't get how a gas station in Manhattan is bad, plus I never got what exactly is prime real estate. Although taxi drivers can save by going into NJ to fill up, which some already do, they will have to pay a toll to come back, and for some of them, that will probably come out of their paycheck. The truth is that motor vehicles are still needed in dense urban areas because space is small, so a lot of what's needed has to be transported considering the fact that NYC hasn't had an active farm for decades within its own limits. Just like the WNBA, the car culture isn't going away anytime soon. BTW, try looking for the causes to why some of are driving on a regular basis rather than the effects, and then you will see why we need a car to get around a lot before you start making your anti-car bias.

May. 21 2014 03:06 PM
Tyson White from UWS

Tal, does an accounts receivable clerk need car for the job? If she works for a mafia loan shark I guess... lol

May. 21 2014 02:45 PM
Bronx from NYC

Also keep in mind the market. Autos are become more fuel efficient and people are commuting less into the CBD via auto. The land value is also extremely high and limited in quantity. Mixed use residential/commercial is a far better use of the land.

May. 21 2014 02:19 PM
Bronx from NYC

"In all honesty, this doesn't affect me in any way or form. Besides, it costs less to fill up in NJ where I am going to anyway. However, I do feel that the taxi drivers will be the ones needing them the most considering that they can afford them with all the fares they charge. Also, lesser nearby gas stations can make it harder for those that need gas when their tank is running low. As for Ms Cole, she probably has a job that involves driving, which is why she needs a car. Seriously, just having a gas station in an dense, urban area doesn't make it a bad place."

Perhaps because you do not live in NYC.

All taxis should be mandated to utilize electric automobiles. Garages should be equipped with charging infrastructures. Would reduce the cities carbon footprint and eliminate the need for gas stations in Manhattan period. The boroughs should also contain less.

"We need Mayor "I'm a motorist" deBlasio to step in and save our gas stations. We can't let big real estate hold us hostage.

How about converting some of these mammoth Citibike stations into mobile fueling stations? Hell that's a lot of wasted space for just a few thousand blue toys. And it's going bankrupt anyway. Motorists far, far outnumber bicyclers. It's the populist thing to do."

Housing/commercial spaces > gas stations

Citi Bikes are actually much more efficient people movers in the CBD. They provide an alternative transportation option that actually encourages more bicycling which does reduce traffic because it relieves other modes.

And by your logic, we would all benefit from straight up banning all automobiles because pedestrians far outnumber drivers by many times in this city.

"It's definitely a problem for people who live in the city and don't own cars. When you rent a car, you need to fill it up just before dropping it off. Total pain as each time I go to the only station I know, it's closed! Then you have to find another one and risk of not getting your car back in time"

This is why all car share programs should be mandated to utilize electric automobiles.

"You may not think you don't use gas or need accessible fuel stations because you don't have a car... However businesses other than taxis offering delivery services are impacted...want to send flowers to someone, dry cleaning/laundry pick up, eating at a restaurant- their linen, kitchen supplies and other items need to be hauled around the city and next time your having a wedding or a party think of all of the goods and items trucked around to make it happen... catering,floral/decor, rentals and other items need to be moved around the city to make it all happen. If small businesses need to leave the city to get gas that's additional time, fuel and tolls incurred just to fill up therefore the cost of items and services will have to increase..."

They do not have to fuel up in Manhattan. The effect is negligible on cost for fueling before entering the city as many already do.

May. 21 2014 02:17 PM
james

why does manhattan need gas stations? who the hell drives in nyc anyway

May. 21 2014 01:56 PM

I hope the developers are being forced to do a thorough environmental study on these sites. Fuel leaks are a 100% certainty and if this is not addressed at the time of the build then there could be dire consequences for tenants down the road.

May. 21 2014 01:00 PM
TOM, the Economic NYC Man from NYC

Of course most of the gas stations that have closed are on the West Side. When the tank reads empty just zip over to NJ, fill'er up at half-a-buck or seventy cents less per gallon. Go back to Manhattan, pay toll and cost of gas for the trip and pocket the cash you've saved. While you're there pick up cigarettes, $50 less per carton of ten packs. After a while it becomes a habit. You work it into your regular schedule.

Now, can we talk about cheap liquor?

May. 21 2014 12:31 PM
Delivery gal from NYC

You may not think you don't use gas or need accessible fuel stations because you don't have a car... However businesses other than taxis offering delivery services are impacted...want to send flowers to someone, dry cleaning/laundry pick up, eating at a restaurant- their linen, kitchen supplies and other items need to be hauled around the city and next time your having a wedding or a party think of all of the goods and items trucked around to make it happen... catering,floral/decor, rentals and other items need to be moved around the city to make it all happen. If small businesses need to leave the city to get gas that's additional time, fuel and tolls incurred just to fill up therefore the cost of items and services will have to increase...

May. 21 2014 12:25 PM
Driver 8 from NYC all my life

We need Mayor "I'm a motorist" deBlasio to step in and save our gas stations. We can't let big real estate hold us hostage.

How about converting some of these mammoth Citibike stations into mobile fueling stations? Hell that's a lot of wasted space for just a few thousand blue toys. And it's going bankrupt anyway. Motorists far, far outnumber bicyclers. It's the populist thing to do.

May. 21 2014 11:09 AM
Levi

There is a green dot on the map at 115th and Lexington, but there's definitely no gas station at that intersection.

May. 21 2014 10:44 AM
Jose from Sunset Park

"In December, the BP at 110th and Frederick Douglass Boulevard — a block from Cole's apartment — closed down to make way for a residential tower. She had been filling her tank there for 19 years, but now she drives 30 minutes to another BP in the Bronx.

"I shouldn't have to drive to another borough," she said."

She doesn't have to -- she can get a Metrocard. She lives a block from the 8th Avenue line, which offers a straight shot down to Wall St.

May. 21 2014 10:27 AM
New Yorker

It's definitely a problem for people who live in the city and don't own cars. When you rent a car, you need to fill it up just before dropping it off. Total pain as each time I go to the only station I know, it's closed! Then you have to find another one and risk of not getting your car back in time.

May. 21 2014 10:07 AM

I live in Alphabet City--about 1.5 miles from the Holland Tunnel. I drive very little in the City and when business, shopping or entertainment takes us over to that other country called New Jersey. Even with the Tunnel toll, getting gas over there (nearly a dollar cheaper per gallon) is a bargain.

May. 21 2014 08:49 AM
Matthew from Brooklyn, ny

24th & 10th station has been gone for 6+ months now. Condos on the way.

May. 20 2014 10:10 PM
Bronx from NYC

Good riddance.

May. 20 2014 10:01 PM
Harlem Mike from Harlem World

Amen Joe Z not to mention the BP at 129th and park

May. 20 2014 09:45 PM
Ken from Soho

I sold my last car before moving into Manhattan, and have no need for a gas station!

Less gas stations, less traffic, less pollution!

May. 20 2014 09:43 PM
Chang from NYC

Ironically many new buildings have underground parking space for their residents, I noticed.

May. 20 2014 07:23 PM
David from NYC

A Non Issue....wait until the sun is blocked out from Central park,
We have enuff high risers here and certainly enuff people.

May. 20 2014 07:10 PM
Steven Kopstein from Manhattan, NY

Such a non-issue. Manhattan is only 3 miles wide at it's widest point. The land is too valuable here to be used for gas stations. Anyone with a car can easily get to the boros so just fill up when you are off island. Anyone who drives probably doesn't just drive in Manhattan - we roam around and leave the island, where there is more land, and more gas stations. I own a car in Manhattan and rarely get gas here.

May. 20 2014 06:15 PM
bill from uws

Would like to see curbside charging stations. Also induction charge-while-driving tracks built into all primary roads. Then cabbies will never have to fill up again.

May. 20 2014 05:09 PM

Taxi cabs do need access to fuel in order to take us where we want to go. If there are fewer public stations, perhaps the city and the taxi companies can find a way to allow the installation of pumps in the garages, either run by the taxi company or as a concession. Unless we are all willing to see the conversion of the entire fleet to electric cars, we need to make it possible for the taxis to gas up economically in Manhattan. It's silly to use up valuable gas going out of the borough or the city to get more gas.

May. 20 2014 05:04 PM

Have to admit, I'm having a hard time seeing the downside of this trend and if cab drivers are so concerned about money, they shouldn't sit with there cars idle. Ever walk by 37th & 10th Ave?

May. 20 2014 03:49 PM
Lou from Brooklyn

They are declining but there is still more that one gas station per square mile. Seem plenty to me.

May. 20 2014 02:46 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

In all honesty, this doesn't affect me in any way or form. Besides, it costs less to fill up in NJ where I am going to anyway. However, I do feel that the taxi drivers will be the ones needing them the most considering that they can afford them with all the fares they charge. Also, lesser nearby gas stations can make it harder for those that need gas when their tank is running low. As for Ms Cole, she probably has a job that involves driving, which is why she needs a car. Seriously, just having a gas station in an dense, urban area doesn't make it a bad place.

May. 20 2014 02:13 PM
Alex from Brooklyn

Wondering the same things, Joe Z. It is not normal in this city for someone to opt for a driving commute from Harlem to the Financial District, especially someone with a middle class job. But they treat it as a normal thing in the article which stands out as odd to me. I suppose it's possible she's just done it for so long it's normal to her, but either she's spending a lot of time looking for parking or a lot of money on a garage. Either way, seems odd. I will very occasionally drive to work from Brooklyn when I'm heading out of town, but those few times a year are enough to make me very grateful for the train, for all its faults.

May. 20 2014 12:12 PM
Mike G from Chelsea

Does few gas stations mean fewer cars on the road? If so, close them all! Few people NEED to drive in Manhattan

May. 20 2014 11:50 AM
Joe Z from Harlem

There are a couple of things that need more explanation in this story. First and foremost, why is Ms. Cole driving from Harlem to lower Manhattan every day when she lives close to both the 2/3 and B/C subway lines that will allow her to make that same commute more cheaply and, if she takes the 2/3, much faster? There may be a good reason why she is driving, but the story does not mention it. Second, why is she going to the Bronx for gas when there is a station practically up the street at 124th and Morningside Ave?

May. 20 2014 07:03 AM

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