The owners of the Sunoco gas and service station at 2701 Knapp Street are seeking approval to open a 24/7 convenience store at the location, right across the street from 7-Eleven.
Representatives for the property owner will come before Community Board 15 tomorrow night, where they will ask for the go-aheadto remove the automotive service center and construct a convenience store. They will continue to operate the gas station.
“[The owners] are shutting it down because all around the country that’s the way of automotive service centers,” said Eric Palatnik, the owners’ attorney. “They can no longer run in a lucrative manner without providing a secondary means of income. It’s no longer the case that cars are serviced at service stations,” he said, adding that cars are often leased and brought back to dealers when problems arise.
Community Board 15 is required to make a recommendation to the Board of Standards and Appeals for the conversion since the property has been without a Certificate of Occupancy since 1965, when the BSA first gave approval to construct the gas station and required them to obtain one.
“Sometimes the Certificates of Occupancy aren’t obtained when they should be,” said Palatnik, who did not represent Sunoco in any of their previous filings. “I don’t know why they didn’t. They should have, and that’s wrong,” he said, adding that they will obtain the certificate when the convenience store is built.
The conversion to a convenience store mirrors Sunoco’s nationwide business strategy of emphasizing their retail offerings.
“An area of opportunity for us to unlock even more value out of our real estate is by changing our mind-set from a fuels retailer that also sells some convenience items, to a convenience retailer that retails fuels,” said Sunoco’s CEO Lynn Elsenhans in 2010. “We do a good job of retailing fuels and believe we can up our game in convenience retailing.”
But it also puts the store in direct competition with 7-Eleven, directly across the street. Regardless, the conversion – combined with an overhaul and rebranding effort on the premises – will help reinvigorate a blighted intersection, said Palatnik.
“It’s going to improve the heck out of that corner,” he said. “It’s going to be nice.”
UPDATE (3:56 p.m.): We clarified the article by noting that the gas station will continue to stay open. It is only the service station – ie. the mechanic – that will be converted to a convenience store.