In NYC and beyond, new life for old gas stations

July 11, 2012 02:00PM

More than 50,000 gas stations have closed across the country since 1991. And while rural communities have problems filling the spaces with new tenants, due to potential petroleum contamination, New York City has the opposite problem. The New York Times reported that due to the city’s high property values, gas stations are frequently being converted into more profitable enterprises, such as high-rises. This gives city drivers fewer locations to fill up.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, New York was home to 809 gas stations last year, which was down from 872 five years prior in 2006. Out of the remaining stations in the five boroughs, a total of 44 are in Manhattan.

But not all gas stations get converted into high-rises. A former Long Island City gas station is now the Breadbox Café — a 48-seat restaurant. “The main challenge is people’s perception,” Eran Chen, the restaurant’s architect, told the Times. “How do you create an attractive food space in a place that used to service gas?”

But outside of New York, shuttered gas stations need to be expanded in order to be marketable, since they sit on small parcels of land. A 3,200-square-foot St. Louis gas station that dates back to the 1960s, for example, will house a Chipotle location and a Starbucks with a 1,300-square-foot addition. [NYT]