Many residents in one of San Antonio’s oldest existing neighborhoods oppose a North Texas developer’s proposal to build a 7-Eleven store and gas station.
Verdad Properties, based in Southlake, has a contract to buy a 1-acre lot at 418 Florida St., along southbound Interstate 37 in the Lavaca Historic District.
Local GrayStreet Partners presently owns the business-zoned vacant property, the former site of a commercial fleet gas station. Verdad’s current proposal calls for 12 gas pumps.
Verdad has built 500-plus single-tenant retail developments, including gas station/convenience store combinations, for brands such as 7-Eleven nationwide.
“Neighbors are open to having a small grocery store that serves the neighboring communities or potentially some other retail that, while it would bring additional traffic, would also serve pedestrians and neighbors,” said Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, Lavaca Neighborhood Association president. “The main opposition is to the gas station.”
Verdad’s local representatives, including Ashley Farrimond of the law firm Killen, Griffin & Farrimond, did not respond for comment by deadline.
Echoing Rohr-Allegrini, several Lavaca residents say another convenience store in their community could be a positive, but they have several concerns about the planned gas station. One worry is that nearby homeowners and their century-old houses might be unable to ventilate gasoline fumes.
Neighbors who pride themselves on living in a walkable, bike-friendly area also wonder how motorists and gasoline supply trucks would enter and exit the station without creating an adverse impact on the neighborhood. Florida Street is a narrow, one-way residential road.
Others are worried that historic district lighting and sign regulations conflict with what’s typically required at 7-Eleven locations.
Some attendees at an LNA virtual general meeting May 18 said a 7-Eleven in their neighborhood wouldn’t offer any more benefit than visiting established nearby convenience stores or gas stations.
A Shell gas station operates on Florida Street just east of I-37, a short drive from the prospective 7-Eleven site.
“I can get gas 500 feet from there, I can get convenience 500 feet from there, I can get convenience less than a mile on the other side, I can get convenience going south, so I have a lot of access to convenience stores,” Ben Stendahl said. “It doesn’t bring, to me, any value in terms of what the store brings.”
Stendahl also said he and his neighbors’ concerns are falling on deaf ears when it comes to presenting questions and criticism to a multinational corporation, such as Japan-based Seven & i Holdings, which owns 7-Eleven.
A house next to the prospective 7-Eleven site has been in the possession of Theresa Licea and her family for years. Licea is concerned about the risk for runoff of gasoline or even motor oil some drivers may put into their vehicles there.
Having a 24-hour gas station open next door is also worrying, she added.
“To me, that’s a problem,” Licea added.
Ben Stendahl’s wife, Melissa Stendahl, said Lavaca is already struggling with traffic safety.
“There are infrastructure issues that neighbors feel have gone unaddressed,” she added.
Saying she realizes the property won’t stay vacant for much longer, Licea instead urged that it be used for a merchant more compatible with the neighborhood.
“Maybe it should be Starbucks or some other coffee place. It just needs to be something else,” she added.
Melissa Stendahl said the neighborhood would endorse a plan for the property that “falls in line with the vision for the city and downtown,” adding that Lavaca’s quality of life depends on compatible development.
Because Verdad’s proposal has not been fully reviewed by city staff or commissions, then-District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño told LNA in May that no opinion could yet be offered about the plan.
But while attending LNA’s virtual meeting, Treviño said one aspect of Lavaca neighbors’ concerns about the project is whether 7-Eleven would be subject to Lavaca’s historic district lighting guidelines.
He added Curtis Fish, the District 1 representative on the Historic and Design Review Commission, could consider those guidelines “when he’s deliberating in HDRC regarding how we can address issues that come to your neighborhood, a historic neighborhood that has protections.”