Housing Complex

D.C.’s Disappearing Gas Stations

(Handel Architects via the Washington Business Journal)

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.

  • John

    Adams Morgan and Cleveland Parks exxons would be excellent locations for condos. Also metro accessible

  • otavio

    Residential sounds great for that location at the foot of Key Bridge, but the rendering of the proposed building is mighty awful for such a prominent location into the city.

    I look the look and feel of 3303 Water Street, but this one is a dud. I hope they reconsider and change the design.

  • Thayer-D

    What a junky design. Looks like it could be a suburban officebuilding. Can't wait to see what effect those glass walls will have on commuters driving in from Virginia on a sunny day.

  • Steve

    Gas stations could be located in courtyards behind new developments. This would allow more development, but still allow people to fill their cars.

  • Grumpy

    Seems very odd to have removed Gas stations near places where they would benefit folks the most. Seems like an backhanded effort to get folks to use public transportation.

    But if I'm leaving Nats stadium and need gas, then what? Drive all the way to Eastern Market?

    This obsession with Loft-Style Gentrification will not turn this town into a mini-Manhattan, regardless of how hard developers are trying. Folks drive here. Folks need gas HERE.

    Then again, maybe it's some vast widespread conspiracy to encourage the Chevy Volt to be the new 'IT' car in DC...just a wall plug away from a fillup

  • Rizzo

    Im all for utilizing space at valuable areas in the city, but this is an area that refused a metro stop and therefore suffers from a lack and transportation options and peoples needs still need to be considered fully

  • tom veil

    There are three other gas stations within two-thirds of a mile (Rosslyn, Wisconsin & Q, 28 & M). No one is suffering from a lack of gasoline. I would have preferred retail here, mainly because it would have been really cool to have a building that has street entrances on both Prospect and M, but I'll take more residents over that gas station.

  • John

    Cars have better mileage these days. Electric cars will be making a comeback. Gas stations will one day be extinct. Thank god. During the transiition you will just have to remember to plan ahead to fill the tank and stay above a quarter tank. I think you all can manage that.

  • DB

    Call me crazy, but why must fuel dispension be at odds with other uses?

    My great, great grandfather's store dispensed Sinclair gasoline curbside.

  • Some Ideas

    Fewer gas stations, means less gas tax income to the DC Highway Trust Fund, means less matching money for federal-aid transportation projects (planning, design, research, maintenance, bridges, construction, inspection, etc.), more needs, and ultimately the further decline in the sufficiency of our infrastructure. Even pedestrians, bicycles and buses need to travel the city streets...

  • eli

    Can't wait to see the station at N Cap & FLAve torn down and rebuilt. Would like to see more coverage of the status of that deal, also the vacant lot north of the intersection on N Cap, right by the infamous bus stop.

  • Rick Mangus

    Gas stations are needed in DC, or are will going to give more tax money to Maryland and Virginia!

  • John

    Regarding the gas tax and match. I have no idea how to compare the figures but as these will likely be multimillion dollar condos there will be handsome property taxes on them. Not to mention the income taxes on those wealthy peoples salaries and the sales tax on all the crap they buy in Gtown. If you want to talk about loss of tax revenue you have to take that into account.

  • http://www.federaltitle.com Nikki Smith

    From an urbanist prospective, if you do away gas stations, where do you suggest gassing up your Zip Car after your ironic trip to CostCo? And what are you going to tell folks living in DC with cars who don't have the luxury of working within walking or metro distance from their homes?

    And finally, will this development have any impact on the Exorcist stairs?

  • Sally

    Dumb to be rooting for extinction of all gas stations or making them entirely inconvenient to the vast majority of people. Not all of us can peddle around on a kid's bike and lead hipster lives.

  • er

    what do hipsters have to do with this?