Disappearing gas stations

October 28, 2011 2:03:43 PM PDT
In Manhattan, flooded with cars, vans and trucks all needing gas and repairs, places that provide those services are quickly disappearing.

"On 8th avenue and 13th street, he just closed down, they all start to close down," said Murray Jacobs, taxi driver.

The number of gas stations in Manhattan now stands at 42, a steady decline in recent years from 90 back in 1990.

"I don't know if Manhattan is the worst, but I just know that if I'm in a certain area I make sure I have x amount of gas in my tank because I know I won't be able to find a gas station," said John Whitney, a driver.

Traditionally found in the once industrial areas like the Meat Packing District and Chelsea surrounding the high line, the stations and repair shops like Brownfeld's can no longer compete, owners say, with rents in the trendy new areas.

"The rent around here are astronomically high and the way the economy is today we are not making enough in business to pay for the rent," said Alan Brownfeld, Brownfeld's owner.

Real estate experts, like Faith Hope Consolo, the head of retail leasing at Prudential Douglas Elliman, says that a corner property can be worth millions, making way, she points out, to modern new apartments and even giant retail stores.

"You have the retail and you interface with the residential or commercial," she said. "So the development process is very exciting.

And with more development in certain areas real estate experts say that only drives up the value of the property.

"They have scouts going around and looking in the city for potential. So really the sky's the limit," said Consolo.

Leaving many now to wait for the gas that fuels their business.