UGas’s Next Victim in Rock Hill?

Last year, during the controversial demolition of the historic Rock Hill Presbyterian Church, I predicted that the addition of yet another gas station in the small stretch of Manchester Road controlled by Rock Hill would prove fatal for the older, less competitive gas stations in the area. A friend and longtime reader of this site sent me these pictures, as he commutes along this section of road, and recently realized that the Conoco gas station, a block west of the old church, has gone out of business. While I have no direct evidence that the new gas station caused this old gas station to close, it is extremely suspicious…which raises the question: at the end of the day, will Rock Hill even have more tax revenue after selling its soul?

Photos courtesy of Brian Jarrett.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. chris says:

    So you’re upset that all local owned businesses (ugas) built a nice new store and an old small store that was an eye sore closed? I know that ugas paid to have the old home moved and no one wanted to pay to move the church. I have been to each of the gas stations you are talking about and it should be obvious why people are choosing the ugas. I could see you making the argument that Tulsa based Qt with over 500 stores is running out local business. U gas is not that type of business though. It is a family owned local saint Louis business that gives back to the community.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Why didn’t UGas buy the old Conoco station and build their gas station there, then? The point of this blog is show that our built environment can either be good, or it can be bad. Tell me, will tourists and their dollars be more likely to visit and patronize Rock Hill businesses to visit an historic church or a chain gas station? My point in this post was pointing out the foolishness and irony of Rock Hill to allow the demolition of their heritage for tax dollars if in the end they don’t end up with more tax dollars in the end. I believe in capitalism, but I am not so ideological that it trumps logic.

      I could care less if UGas is family owned if they’re doing the wrong thing. The ONLY reason UGas saved the house is that they didn’t own it.

    2. Tom Maher - Kirkwood says:

      chris –
      Before you canonize U-Gas, you should read of its quite recent attempts to pull several end runs around both the neighbors and the Kirkwood City Council in an effort to install a station on Kirkwood Road, just South of Manchester.
      It put up a sign saying that a Dirt Cheap liquor/tobacco store (also owned by U-Gas) was going to go in the location when the first U-Gas petition was thwarted by P&Z back in November. The obvious ploy here was to infer that if a gas station wouldn’t fly with the ‘hood, that a tobacco/beer store would take its place (“Heavens! Who would want that over gas?”).
      To its credit, the Council listened to its P&Z Commission and the neighbors and denied U-Gas’ final efforts just last month.

      U-Gas is simply a smaller and local version of QuikTrip; Big Whoop.
      It is not to be praised for its local roots. It took QT’s (and Wallis Oil’s ‘On the Run’ Mobil stores) concept and ran with it. Wallis, incidentally, is sorta locally-based; it’s home office is in Cuba, just down I-44.

      Chris N.’s last sentence is accurate.

  2. I think the point here is that Rock Hill demolished a 150 year old historical landmark for some additional tax revenue. But when the Conoco station shut down, the town lost a good chunk of revenue. So did UGas make up the difference? Maybe, but the bigger question is whether or not it was worth it to tear down their history.

    Rock Hill has quite a few derelict buildings and lots that could have been used for the new station. They even have a few lots that are now empty, their buildings recently demolished. Yet they chose to tear down the church (destroying a part of the town’s history) for some extra tax revenue.

    Seems they could have used another lot, kept the church, and gotten the tax revenue boost. Win-win. Capitalism, but with some conscience. Maybe it’s more complicated than that, or maybe I’m missing something, but with a country as young as ours it seems short-sighted and a little reckless to tear down our built history for a short-term gain, local company or not.

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