Score one for the self-proclaimed clout of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. Thanks largely to recent efforts of the senator, a former gas station on Syracuse's south side will be redeveloped.
The intersection of East Brighton Avenue and Seneca Turnpike is home to three vacant properties: two former gas stations and an old car wash. Two of them are owned by gas station chain Sunoco.
City officials say they'd been trying to work with Sunoco to get the sites redeveloped for over a year, but accused the company of blocking the properties' sale in order to keep competition away from a fueling station it operates down the road.
But in came Schumer in June to hold a press conference at the intersection to put the pressure on Sunoco. Schumer then announced he had arranged a meeting between city officials and executives from the pump station chain a few weeks later.
The end result is plans to build a Dunkin' Donuts on the site of the two properties owned by Sunoco. (A third vacant former gas station is owned separately.)
Ben Walsh, an economic development official for the city, says it's possible the doughnut chain was eyeing the location earlier, but "it wasn’t until the press conference was held that it came to light that Dunkin' Donuts was interested in the site."
He gives a lot of credit to the efforts of Schumer.
"We had had some conversations [with Sunoco], but certainly not the same response that we had received more recently," he said.
Blake Heinemann, Vice President for Retail Operations at Sunoco, said the following in a written statement following his meeting with city officials:
When we were contacted, we immediately responded to work with locals officials regarding questions about the property we own on Brighton Avenue. We will work with the city to maintain the property until the transaction is finalized.
Walsh says they’re still working with the owners of the third former pump station at the south side intersection.
Walsh says code issues on the sites have been addressed, but until they’re all redeveloped, he won’t be calling it a win.