The Shell gas station at the corner of Georgia Avenue, Upshur Street and Kansas Avenue has been the subject of recent press due to the moratorium on the sale of service stations in DC. A group of Petworth business owners have sent a letter to the DC Council in support of the redevelopment to create more housing density in the neighborhood.
WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle published an article about the Shell service station on January 4th, “Once A Gas Station, Always A Gas Station? D.C. Sued Over Law Blocking Redevelopment.” In the article, Austermuhle writes:
A lawsuit has been filed over a quirky, decades-old D.C. law that protects full-service gas stations from closing down and becoming something else.
John Formant, a D.C. realtor and developer, is suing the city over the law, which all but prohibits owners of full-service gas stations — those that offer mechanic services and retail, not just gas — from closing and converting them to commercial or residential use.
When Formant bought the building in 2005, the original plan for the location was to remove the service station and put up a large triangular-shaped 54-unit condo building with street-level retail. But that plan was derailed by legislation sponsored by Councilmember Mary Cheh, who sought to preserve service stations in DC, protecting them from over-development. Austermuhle writes:
Council Member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) says the restrictions are necessary, especially as property values in and around the city rise and owners consider uses that could be more profitable.