Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chelsea Mobil

News recently came in that the Mobil gas station and car wash on the edge of the Meatpacking District has sold for $60 million. It's a deal that "will likely end with the land being cleared for 'numerous 1,500-foot storefronts,'" says Curbed. In other words, another luxury mall.

Gas stations are disappearing from Manhattan.
We lost one when the Bowery Hotel went up. A Chelsea Exxon went to a big luxury development. Rumor has it the one across from Mars Bar will go. And I seriously have my doubts that the two Lukoil stations in the Chelsea area will last much longer, given what's going on around them (i.e., One Jackson Square and 245 10th Ave). And let's not forget the wonderful Gentle Touch "Whale of a Wash!" car wash and gas station that died for the big Adidas store on Houston.

There are plenty more, too. And while I'm not a fan of oil, I like gas stations for their smudgy, blue-collar existence, and their vanishing from the face of Manhattan is worth noting. So let's take a last look at the Meatpacking Mobil.

Prices to be frozen in time, perhaps sold to junk dealers, then resold and hung on a SoHo loft wall to be pointed to at a cocktail party and remarked upon with bored surprise, "Remember when gas was $3.09 a gallon?" Overhead, a crane hovers in the sky like a buzzard over the dying. (Oil) Change is coming.

Nearby, Balazs and the High Line Building show off their omnipotence. From the car wash bay, luxury cars pull out gleaming into the sunlight of another glorious day on Mount Olympus.

But where will all those Mercedes and SUVs go to get vacuumed, polished, and waxed before they climb into their Sky Garage elevators and tuck themselves into bed for the night? And where will we go to enjoy a sandwich hot off the grill with a bag of Funyuns while sitting at the window to watch the slip-slap of soapy mitters and the high-pressure foam of bug removal guns?

See all my Mobil photos


Barbara L. Hanson said...

Both Red Square and One Avenue B were once gas stations. It's inconceivable now, isn't it, two gas stations within a block of each other?

Anonymous said...

Nice work jeremiah, I like that real estate ad done in "Gas Station" font and format. thank god manhattan will get what it really needs, more retail!

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the property was sold by Erez Shternlicht, the owner and operator of nearby Milk Studios. Last year, he sold another MePa building for $160 million, so those on his holiday gift list should consider themselves very lucky.


So he only gets $60 million this time around?

Thats chump change.

Better luck next time I guess.

Marjorie said...

There was a Gulf Station on the east side of Seventh Avenue between 19th Street and 20th Street. It was torn down in the 90s and in that location is a high rise building which blocks the view of the Empire State Building.
Here are three photos from my blog.
Two of the photos show the Gulf Station. The third photo shows an almost deserted Seventh Avenue on a bleak Sunday afternoon. In the third photo, you can see the old horse stable at 127 Seventh Avenue that was torn down.
The Yves is now at that location.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks all. nice pics marjorie. someone should put together a collection of nyc gas station photos...

Marjorie said...

I have a hazy memory of a gas station being on 6th Avenue at 16th Street. It's long gone. Also, isn't there a gas station on Hudson Street at about Horatio? There is one on 11th Avenue at about 28th Street and a gas station at about 20th Street, under the FDR Drive. The gas station on Houston Street at Lafayette? used to have a car wash. There is one also on Houston at Avenue C. After the Mobil closed on 10th and 23rd, I started using the gas station on 10th Avenue and 24th Street. I think it is a Luxoil. Wow, I am like an energizer bunny with this stuff.
My friend up the street, who is a man in his 80s, tells me he watched my apartment house go up in 1961 and... it was built on the site of a gas station that had been torn down!

Jill said...

The thing I miss is the car wash that is now an overly large Adidas store that has more free space than merchandise. They could probably fit a car wash in there and not sacrifice a single clothing rack.

There were always $2 car wash coupons in the monthly Value Pak mailing and the guys at the station grumbled loudly when I used them, which was always. I still can't adjust to paying $8 for a car wash.

(I know, who has a car in the city - I will tell you who - every parent with school age kids, it's essential for survival but only if you live where you can find street parking even if you have to move it three times a week.)

Anonymous said...

Fact is that small gas station operators can't make enough money by selling fuel only. Look around outside of Manhattan. Small gas stations are disappearing fast all over the place, being replaced by gas stations + convenience stores. Most smaller gas stations that are surviving are doing so because the owner is also operating a repair and maintenance service. Even these are hurting because modern autos require sophisticated diagnostic tools that the little guys can't afford.