Soho’s Last Gas: BP Pump Makes Way for Swanky Lofts

bp 0 Sohos Last Gas: BP Pump Makes Way for Swanky LoftsThe corner of Lafayette and Houston, long-time home of the iconic red-blue-and-white Gaseteria, was sexy long before Soho was.

“Gaseteria is very real, very raw, it’s sexy and hip,” Marcello Porcelli, whose father built the chain, told the New Yorker in 2003. “It just represents everything that’s beautiful and wonderful and real about New York. I gave one of my ex-girlfriends a Gaseteria jumpsuit, and she looked just gorgeous in the thing.” 

It might not be quite as sexy as an industrial jumpsuit, but Lafayette and Houston is getting a super-secret five- to seven-story commercial loft development with luxury retail, The Observer has learned. While the prospect of another Dean & Deluca or Top Shop might be a boon to the tony cobblestone hood, it apparently leaves downtown with all of two gas stations.  

After shuttering the Gaseteria, Mr. Porcelli leased the spot to British Petroleum in 2003, but that lease will soon expire. Similarly, a number of the family gas station sites in the five boroughs have been transformed into small luxury developments in neighborhoods such as the East Village.  

The omniscient Community Board 2 hasn’t heard that plans are afoot for a major transformation of the site–one of the few, and arguably the best, development site in the landmarked cast-iron hood. Never mind: even the manager of the gas station too was shocked by the news. “I haven’t heard that,” she said. 

CB Richard Ellis is marketing the retail space and could not be reached for comment. Likewise, Mr. Porcelli could not be reached.  

At least the news is likely to delight environmentalists, who once dressed as sea mammals and “occupied” the site last spring to protest the British Petroleum oil slithering down the Louisiana coastline. Said N.Y.U. grad Joseph God Jordan when contacted by The Observer: “I’m happy.” But, he hastened, “There’s gas everywhere.”

Well, not quite. With one of the few remaining gas stations at 14th and 10th Avenue, those lines of honking cabbies will simply have to take their business elsewhere, but where?

lkusisto@observer.com 

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