New York billionaire giving new life to old gas stations

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 18:33:48-04

Old gas stations in Buffalo are getting a makeover. No longer will you see rusty gas pumps and concrete.  Now, it's just grass.

"Things are being taken care of. It's helping out with the community. Raising value of homes. It's creating more opportunities."

Rivera is happy these properties are given a new life.

"The old gas stations they are pretty much eyes sores. You see how many things are being dilapidated and not being taking care of," Pastor Juan Carlos Rivera of Assemblies of Christian Churches in Buffalo, said.

Plus, the Assemblies of Christian Churches is leasing the lot on Chadduck and Ontario in Riverside for free. The church plans on hosting community events and using it as a place to give food to the homeless.

"We are a Spanish church. It's right in front of a project that has a high Hispanic community. We felt it was the best place to start out with," Rivera said.

All this was made possible by New York billionaire John Catsimatidis. He owns the properties and paid for the makeover. It wasn't done completely voluntarily, though.

"Buffalo came to us, and some counties Rochester, and they want to foreclose on eminent domain on our properties,” Catsimatidis said.

He owns United Refining Company, among others. It services crude oil to gas stations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The properties were beginning to look rundown, which is why the county approached Catsimatidis.

The billionaire, who also made part of his fortune in real estate, wasn't ready to give up his property.

 "As buffalo gets better we want to look at reopening some of these facilities some day," he said.

Three properties are currently refurbished with two more in Amherst and Lackawanna to be completed by the fall.