Robust Interest in Redeveloping Gas Station near Central Park, EDC Says

By Jeff Mays on December 14, 2012 10:56am 

 The city's Economic Development Corporation is looking for ideas to redevelop this gas station on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 110th Street. Officials say it is one of the last underutilized parcels of land along Central Park. Harlem councilwoman Inez Dickens says she's opposed to the project.
The city's Economic Development Corporation is looking for ideas to redevelop this gas station on Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 110th Street. Officials say it is one of the last underutilized parcels of land along Central Park. Harlem councilwoman Inez Dickens says she's opposed to the project.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — There's robust interest in redeveloping a BP gas station on 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, officials from the city's Economic Development Corporation told area residents from the North Star Neighborhood Association Thursday night.

The agency issued a request for expressions of interest for the chance to redevelop the 13,500 square foot space on the northwest corner of Central Park North at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 110th Street in June.

Several developers responded with plans that include mixed income housing, retail and community facility space. Potential buildings could be 12 stories tall and all of the proposals involved no required zoning changes.

"We think we got a very robust response showing there is interest in developing the site," said Scott Solish, vice president of real estate for the EDC.

The city thinks the land, which it calls the last underutilized parcel on Central Park, can be used to develop 85,000 square feet of residential, community and retail space. The residential space could be rental or ownership and include a mix of affordable and market-rate units.

The city does not currently own the space, but maintained the right to reacquire the property as part of the 1996 deed of sale to the current owner, said Solish.

The proposal includes space for the current owner Carmie Elmore Jr., vice president of 110th Street Service Station, Inc., to operate some sort of business but not a gas station. Elmore has filed suit against the city and EDC in an effort to keep his busy gas station.

"We understand he has put a lot of his life into running the station," said Solish.

Officials believe it is the only gas station along Central Park. Area Councilwoman Inez Dickens has expressed resistance to the proposal because her office believes the gas station is necessary.

Solish said the EDC would be looking for any project to have "iconic architecture" as well as take advantage of the adjacent Frederick Douglass circle which was recently renovated.

 Sanusi Bah, a cab drivery for three years, said he would be sad to see the station close Tuesday as he filled his tank with gas that cost $4.23 per gallon. "I always put gas in here because the service and the workers are good. ," said Bah who said he had come from further downtown just to fill up at the station.
Sanusi Bah, a cab drivery for three years, said he would be sad to see the station close Tuesday as he filled his tank with gas that cost $4.23 per gallon. "I always put gas in here because the service and the workers are good. ," said Bah who said he had come from further downtown just to fill up at the station.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

"The architecture should take into account and have a sense of openness," said Solish.

Dianne Pobuda, head of Friends of Frederick Douglass Circle, said  the group is interested in making sure that whatever project is built "blends in with the circle."

Area residents have already raised the issue of affordability. Solish said the city would have to look at affordability standards for the project and make sure they fit the area.

Nina Saxon, a representative from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office suggested an economic impact study for the area, something the EDC said it has not done yet.

"An economic impact study would be great just to see what the needs are in the community," said Saxon.

The next step is a request for proposals but Solish said he had no timeline for that. The EDC would have to invoke it's right to the property by 2016.

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