D.C.’s Disappearing Gas Stations
District drivers will have one fewer place to fill up starting in 2012, when the Key Bridge gas station at 3607 M Street NW gets demolished to make way for new condos, the Business Journal reported on Friday. EastBanc, which has developed large chunks of Georgetown and the West End, plans about 35 new condos designed by Handel Architects (the people responsible for 3303 Water Street).
You've heard about this one before, though. The M Street Exxon is part of Joe Mamo's gas station empire, brilliantly profiled here the other week by Christine MacDonald. It's some of the most valuable real estate he owns, and may be only the first in a series of stations to be either sold or redeveloped within his own portfolio.
“The market is changing,” Mamo told Christine. “A lot of properties are being used for best and highest use, as the properties become more expensive. So the chances are less and less gas stations in the future.”
From an urbanist perspective, that's awfully good news: Residents are more valuable than parking lots that service cars. Of course, it's too bad that the project couldn't be taller than five stories; the houses behind it would have pitched a fit over lost views. But it would be nice to see other gas stations in the urban core go the same way (the Sunoco on 15th and U Street comes to mind). At the very least, we should see more projects like EastBanc's 22 West, which incorporated an Exxon into a 92-unit condo building. Eventually, it makes sense that D.C. will push gas stations to the very edge of the city, like Manhattan did long ago–land is too precious to allow it to be used simply as a dispensary of fossil fuel.