Are big city downtown gas stations on the way out? – Canada

Vancouver is set to lose its last downtown gas station, as the Esso at Burrard Street and Davie Street is now listed for sale. Late last month, the only other place to fill up in the city’s downtown area closed.

The surging cost of real estate in the city is adding pressure to shut down businesses like gas stations, sell the properties, and build dense, lucrative developments like condominiums.

And the pressures aren’t just in Vancouver. Toronto’s downtown gas stations may also be threatened, according to a local real estate agent specializing in commercial deals.

“Some have closed. Some are being redeveloped. We do have gas companies that come to us and speak about what is the potential for sale,” said Mike Czestochowski, executive vice-president with CBRE in Toronto.

“We’ve seen tremendous jump [in land values] in the last 10 years, and that’s really driven by demand for condos,” said Czestochowski.

The Vancouver Esso station doesn’t have a listed selling price, but it was valued at more than $36 million last year, according to B.C. Assessment.

In Toronto, there are still a handful of spots to fill up downtown, and for the most part the land value hasn’t risen to the same level as Vancouver

One Toronto Shell station, located at 38 Spadina Ave. was assessed at $8.4 million last year. Across the street, the Petro-Canada was assessed at $18.2 million.

But according to Czestochowski, owners are looking at their businesses, and considering what sort of other opportunities exist beyond keeping vehicle tanks topped up.

“Like any business, they look at the volume they do in terms of the gas business,” he said. “There is pressure to look at the performance and say, ‘Is the land worth more than the actual businesses?'”

Czestochowski said some of his potential customers are considering the possibility of closing one downtown site and opening up two or three suburban sites for the same price.

Changing face of transportation

Gordon…

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