It’s not the last fuel station on the island of Manhattan, but the last operating station below 23rd Street in the city. The area south of that gas station covers 4.2 Square Miles and includes some of the densest streets in the city.
The South of Manhattan’s popular neighborhoods include the Financial District, Battery Park City, Tribeca, Chinatown, West Village, Alphabet City, parts of Chelsea, Meatpacking District…with all the cars, delivery trucks, TAXICABS, two tunnels and two bridges…no place to fuel up until you get to this Mobil Station on West 13th Street and 8th Avenue.
Who owns this place? One can speculate based on what you find on ACRIS, but there’s one Curbed article that gives us a clue about him here. I walked into this gas station on a Sunday afternoon and chatted with a gentleman at the counter who identified himself as an owner. For starters, he’s not selling, he made sure to tell me that. He’s also not into all the questions and I can understand why–his fuel station sits on a lot that could bring in a good sum to an owner who’s willing to part ways with it, he receives offers routinely.
Here are a couple shots of the station and its surroundings:
The property is zoned a C1-6 which is a commercial district, but there is a residential equivalent that would expand the structures’ height from an FAR (Floor Area Ratio) of 2.00 as a commercial structure, to an FAR of 3.44 or more as its residential district equivalent of R7 (if you want to read about these zoning codes, go here).
I’d like to cap off this post with my reflection that this station serves so many so well. The place is busy and it offers all the conveniences of a traditional gas station with an air pump, ice machine, ATM and cheap snacks in a neighborhood where this is nearly nonexistent. For as long as it remains, people will reflect on this station fondly.
Its likely though that high property taxes, the oil industry’s steady decline and the city’s ongoing anti-congestion policies will eventually squeeze into the profits of this gem. Leaving me to wonder whether its a constraint of excessive debt, a series of bad fuel leases or some other factor that’s got this shop holding out for the long run.
I spent the better part of the afternoon walking the neighborhood and test shooting with a new friend who convinced me to take this shot, it was my favorite of the day.