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No A+ for Sunoco

A concerned North Buffalo business owner has reached out to Buffalo Rising to express the need for change at a Sunoco gas station site located at the corner of Colvin and Hertel. The concern that has arisen stems from a typical prevailing and outdated attitude that gas stations located in urban commercial districts don’t have to look appealing and fit into the fabric of the street, as long as they do their job and service the cars that pull up for gas and products sold at the convenience stores (an A-Plus in this case).

The business owner who contacted BRO felt that it was time to rethink the way that we allow gas stations to simply exist without any (or many) beautification and safety measures. “The Sunoco at the corner of Hertel and Colvin is going through major renovations,” he stated. “They had zero green space for the entire parcel for a decade. City Hall’s planning office said they have been around before 1997 rules… and said that if they expand they will have to follow the guidelines. But what are those guidelines and who is going to make them accountable? The time is over when we just sit back and wait, and then realize that once again nothing happened. It’s an ugly corner that is unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. It is fenced in now and under construction. A couple of trees does not cut it anymore. We need curbs to protect citizens and green space for the neighborhood. Is that too much to ask?”

I would like to think that the rest of the neighborhood would have been consulted on potential improvements that could be made at this corner, since an overhaul of the property is clearly underway. The time is now to ensure that adequate quality of life standards are met for the residents of North Buffalo and visitors to Hertel Avenue, so that the next decade doesn’t slip by with the same sort of low standards that were set when outdated codes required little to no aesthetic appeal or safety concerns for the public.


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • sbrof

    In all likelihood it is too late. Permits are pulled and site plans are typically approved before constructor starts. If the city was going to require a change, it shouldhave already been raised and agreed upon with the owner.

  • foreverbflo

    I agree 1,000% here. Absolutely. They are getting away with urban murder. There are many glowing examples of gas stations in the NE that are actual assets to communities. I recall some in Wilkes-Barre Pa from a couple of years ago. We thought we were driving in to a botanical gardens complete with native plants and a fountain! People actually hung around and had coffee and lunch and sat in the green areas. So cool.

  • foreverbflo


  • hello, green code?

  • whateverr

    Regarding desire for it to have green space –
    Sometimes BR commenters criticize when city projects include green space, and other times criticize the lack of it. 
    In general, I don’t think any green space should be required for gas stations but also think the A+ on Elmwood at Hodge is pretty good, as are the Mobil stations on Elmwood at Forest and Lexington, and Delta Sonic at Main south of Utica, and Paladino’s station on Delaware at Allen (which was praised in a BR article not too long ago). 
    How do we know yet that this A+ on Hertel won’t be at least similar to some of those when finished?

  • jvgriffis

    ChetKowal Speak for yourself. Out here in the villages (which count as “Western New York”!) we plant dozens of new street trees every year.

  • Rand503

    AndoreaPuis whateverr I agree, but I would just say that the city can try to get more jobs AND provide more greenery and park space.  The two desires are not exclusive.

  • Rand503

    This is a good post, but oh — it goes far deeper than that.   There once was a time when our society actually valued beauty.  We might not have always achieved it, but at least for our public buildings, we often demanded it.
    We used to build churches so that they were the most beautiul possible.  Today, our suburban churches are ugly.  A department store prided itself on being an ornament to our city — it was good business to look good.  Today, our stores are big boxes that need to be built as cheaply as possible.  We used to line our streets, especially our residential streets, with towering elms that provided shade in the summer and made us feel like we were walking in an outdoor cathedral.  Now people hate trees because they leaves are a problem.   We used to build hotels that were beautiful, and office buildings, and civic buildings.  It was a matter of pride in our city and a way to make us unique. 
    We don’t want beauty anymore.  Corporate America lives on Wall street, and Wall Street doesn’t give a damn how Buffalo looks.  They have no pride in their build enviroinment, only a concern for the bottomline.  Everything must look the same, and comply with the approved “look”, which just happens to be cheap.  We’ll drive half an hour to buy batteries that cost twenty cents less at another store, and we just want to dash in and buy them and leave.   We have no use for a beautiful store.
    We want technology to distract us, not elm trees or ornamental carving on a facade.  WE don’t want old, because the past was too painful.  We want the new, no matter how ugly, because that’s what everyone else wants.  And we want very much to be like everyone else, because that seems normal.  If Charlotte or Denver are ugly but prosperous, then we should be ugly too and maybe that will make us prosperous as well.  Might work, right?
    But above all, we must never ever deamand better from our businesses or our neighbors.  We can never appeal to civic pride like we did in the past.  We must build as cheaply as possible to maximize our profits or else youare taking money out of a developers mouth.  And there is no crime worse than that!
    We’ve become crabbed — our society is so ugly we don’t even see it as ugly anymore.   Ugly is the new standard — a drive down Transit or Sheridan is considered normal.  A drive down Parkside is considered cute but not “realistic” or anyone else.  A flower has no social utility and it doesn’t earn any proits for us.  And we want the gummint out of our lives anyway.
    I don’t see it changing any time soon.  But we can all appreciate beauty in our lives in our own way.  And that might be all we can achieve.

  • BuffaloBuck

    Go visit Phoenix, AZ and you people will re-think all this “green space” crap.

  • jvgriffis

    Rand503 I’m not sure you can use the royal “we” when there are wonderful places all over WNY that contradict your point.
    If you ask me, it’s nice that we have the option to focus on the things we care about. It doesn’t bother me that some people (with no taste!) want to live in bland crappy subdivisions in Lancaster.
    Trees and landscaping do provide value. The studies exist. New buildings are incredibly costly unless you go the cheap route. So should builders eat it, or the owners? I don’t know a way around that.

  • buffalorr

    Cities in the west like Henderson NV ( just outside Vegas ) and Pasadena CA are requiring parking lots to include trees and landscaping included in the building of any new parking lots. The big box stores along with smaller business are now surrounded by trees and flowers which absolutely makes a huge difference. No one likes looking at a parking lot but since we do have them, we should make them as attractive as possible. A good example of a well done parking lot in Buffalo ( an oxymoron I know ) but going along, is the one at Mariner and North Sts. that serves EB Greens 230 North Apt building. Take a look at it the next time you go by and then just imagine if all parking lot’s were to incorporate the trees/ landscaping that you see in this lot.

  • Rand503

    jvgriffis Rand503 Yes, of course, there are nice places.  But too often we settle for less because, afterall, we can’t push developers to make it nice — that might offend them and they’ll take their marbles and go home.  
    Most architectural renderings are a fraud.  For instance, they will draw in fully mature trees when they developers has no intention of putting in trees, execpt perhaps little saplings that will die by the next year.  I recall one drawing that portrayed the parking lot asphalt as pristine white!  At the hearing, I insisted that they take a magic marker and draw it in black, which the architect was not happy to do — but it was closer to reality.
    As to your other point, who should suck it, I don’t really care.  Adding trees and flowers increases value to the land and the business attached to the land, and frankly, they are minimal cost to the overall plan.  (And that’s not even considering the fact that trees provide cooling shade, which reduced the building’s energy costs). There is absolutely no reason we can’t have nicely landscaped businesses.

  • Boycott this station.
    I predict the number of gas stations will shrink dramatically in the next 10 years, and guys like this will be sucking wind. Why? Well in my instance, I replaced my 2005 Honda Accord with a 2014 Honda Accord and with my much better MPG, I calculated that I will be making 20% fewer trips to the gas station.
    There are now a number of excellent non-hybrid cars (Honda Civic, Mazda 3) that get over 40MPG highway and 35MPG combined. And with the tough new EPA rules, MPG will be going up and up.
    And this is good news for the environment, and good news for those of us who are sick and tired of looking that these blighted properties.
    And did I mention to boycott this station?

  • keetz4

    AndoreaPuis…….excellent observations. Never understood why people trees in spring; absolute best time is the fall for all the reasons you cite.

  • OldFirstWard

    I guess that does not say much for the urban planners UB has been churning out for the last 20 or so years.

  • ninohuong

    foreverbflo no such thing as 1000% when agreeing.  max is 100%

  • whateverr

    No ChristyAndorea, I wasn’t referring to parks or pocket parks in my previous comment, but to building projects that include some green space (strips of lawn or shrubbery, etc) that sometimes are criticized in BR comments as inappropriate for an urban setting.
    I don’t see any difference between those criticized green spaces and these ideas that all gas stations in the city that don’t have any green space should be boycotted (if that’s the reason for ruba’s proposed boycott – it isn’t clear to me) and/or the idea that gas stations should be forced by zoning code to have some green space.
    It also still isn’t apparent either way from the current in-progress state of the Colvin-Hertel gas station’s renovations whether or not it will have green space when finished.  Perhaps the boycott advocate ruba knows some info that the owner’s plan is to not have any – but I’d better not ask that as a question or it will be condemned as “interrogating”, lol 
    Anyhow, I can see the difference between clean well maintained gas stations and those that aren’t, such as the difference between Forest-Elmwood and Delavan-Elmwood.  But again, don’t see any reason at this point to assume the Colvin-Hertel one when compete won’t look reasonably good regardless of if it has a bit of green space or not.  While I respect the right to boycott for any reason anybody wants to, I can’t imagine how anybody could look at it right now under renovations and feel that they ‘know’ for sure how it will look when done.

  • North Park

    AndoreaPuis Christie Lou, I’m glad to see you have been playing nice lately.  Turning over a new leaf?

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    The gas station is unfriendly to bikers and pedestrians? I also find it also shady that this “business man” decides to remain nameless. If you saying something, or have an opinion you should stand by it, not clock yourself in secrecy. To cut all commenters off who say, “while you comment under an anonymous name.” Yes, you are correct. And the only reason why I do so is because all other accounts on this site under my name were blocked access. #TheKangLivesAgain