Syracuse officials are accusing the ownership of three vacant gas stations at a southern entrance to the city of blocking the properties' sale in the name of competition.
On Monday, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner brought in Sen. Charles Schumer to call on Sunoco to allow the sale and redevelopment of the stations near the intersection of Seneca Turnpike and East Brighton Ave.
One of the properties has been vacant more than 15 years.
Entering the city and driving past the rundown properties sets "a bad tone" for the area, Schumer said.
"Because Syracuse drivers should not be welcomed at a gateway to the city day after day by abandoned properties, overgrown fields [and] empty, littered parking lots," he said. "They’re eyesores."
The old stations are owned either by Sunoco or a property trust company.
Just a few yards down the street from the vacant gas stations sits a newer - and open - Sunoco station.
Officials accuse Sunoco of stalling or blocking the vacant properties' sale as a way to keep competition out of the area.
"Might the reason that Sunoco is leaving these stations abandoned [is] because they don’t want a competitor to their busy station over there?" Schumer asked, rhetorically. "That’s a possibility. We don’t know the answer."
"So the people of the city and our extended community suffer because they want to corner the market," Miner added. "And that's just not right."
Miner said the properties will be added to a newly created vacant property registry. That should give the city more influence in encouraging ownership to at least maintain the properties and fix code violations.
All three properties are currently up to date on their property taxes.
Being former gas stations, the properties are likely brown fields and would need some environmental cleanup. Miner and Schumer both listed several grant programs that would help with that, if redevelopment became a possibility.
There are no specific plans in place, they said.
One of the properties, at 968 East Brighton Ave., is listed on Sunoco's real estate website. The asking price is $985,000.
Several messages seeking comment from Sunoco have not yet been returned.