Whether repaving is the answer, renewing demand or promoting a new use, city officials say the station needs investment
It cost the city $400,000 to fix up the historic Joy Oil gas station. Why is it still waiting for a fillup?
The city recently announced that the gas station at 1400 Red Arrow Lane had been closed for repairs for nearly a year. It was closed after the owner, Alec Basile, applied for an upgrade of the gas station from a retail lease to a gas station lease, which he said required several modifications, including the addition of new pumps. The second application was denied.
Recently, the city made the decision to shut down the gas station permanently.
“It was heartbreaking,” said Councilman Chris Sonnenberg, who represents the area. “I’ve spoken to a lot of people and there is a great deal of frustration that the city has not followed its obligation to make this work. We’ve been in contact with the owner and urged him to get to work. He has not.”
Basile did not respond to requests for comment.
The City Commission approved plans for a gas station at that location in 2017. Also in 2017, Basile applied for a new food-service license for the site. Both of those applications were denied, leading to the failed ownership application, which is what eventually led to the closure of the station.
Basile may appeal the closure to the judge. In the meantime, the station has been closed for more than a year. Without action by the city, its status as a gas station will remain, Sonnenberg said.
“We need to begin to develop a plan for what we’re going to do with the property,” he said. “We have a strong corridor. We have millions of visitors each year that have vehicles. That should be a priority for us, to have a place that serves the traveling public.”
Sonnenberg said he understood that many of the issues around the gas station were pre-existing, such as its aging infrastructure. Sonnenberg said he’s heard from a lot of residents about the station’s condition, both in terms of fuel availability and overall property value.
He said he did not know if the city could simply reconstruct the station, but didn’t want to see that as the solution.
The gas station’s site is located on one of the busiest shopping centers in the area, with a Target, Toys R Us, Dollar General, PetSmart, CVS, REI, Hobby Lobby, Maxfield & Oberton, Walgreens and more. The area has traditionally enjoyed a number of anchor stores, but only Walgreens still operates in that location.
Sonnenberg said he had received an outpouring of support for a public-private partnership to preserve the building.
Sonnenberg suggested the city could work to partner with a local developer to construct a multi-story rental property on the site, while a parking garage could be built along the curve of the street. He said parking was a major issue for the site because it had been vacant for so long.
Sonnenberg said that issue and the number of vehicles used by people visiting the area needed to be addressed in a comprehensive plan for the area.
Sonnenberg said having a long-term vision and the resources to follow it up was a long-time goal. “People want to see action to go along with the vision,” he said.