Matthew Shaffer, the vice president of the Nelmar Terrace Neighborhood Association, appeared before the St Augustine City Commission and Historic City News reporters Monday night to express his objections to a proposed 7-Eleven convenience store, with gasoline, to be built on San Marco Avenue at May Street.
The property once was divided; with a cement plant facing May Street and a row of boutique shops, built around the late 1940’s, facing San Marco Avenue. The storefronts included the original location of Barrancotto’s Roma Restaurant, and, on the corner, the Zanzibar Lounge.
“7-Eleven stores are typically open 24 hours,” Shaffer reminded commissioners during public comments at the regular meeting. “The noise, lighting, and increased traffic will certainly have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood.”
The plans must first go to the Planning and Zoning Board — they are scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, July 3. Developer Wally Devlin had plans in 2006 to redevelop the site; however, the weak economy forced those plans to be scuttled and the lots have remained vacant for years.
“Even worse, there are no plans to improve this already busy intersection to accommodate the increased traffic,” Shaffer said. “What a terrible first impression this gas station would make to visitors coming to our historic city from Vilano Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach.”
Gas and service stations were once plentiful along San Marco Avenue when it served as the main business corridor through the city; as were car dealerships that kept them busy — Fort Marion Chevrolet, Banta Brothers Rambler Pontiac AMC, Richbourg Studebaker, St Johns Chrysler Plymouth, and Old City Motors to name a few.
Long ago brands of gasoline, like Sinclair, Gulf, Pure and Amoco disappeared; one by one. Service Stations offering tires and auto repairs faded away. You could still “put a tiger in your tank” at the Exxon station at Joiner Street; however, that was the last location along San Marco Avenue where you could buy gasoline, until it was converted to a trolley stop and “welcome station” by Historic Tours of America.
If you are planning to attend — the regular St Augustine Planning and Zoning Board meeting will begin at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of the west wing of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St Augustine.