Carmie Elmore, Harlem Gas Station Owner, Fights NYC's Plan to Buy It for Development

Harlem gas station owner Carmie Elmore

The owner of a Harlem gas station is suing New York City, saying that the city is trying to buy back land that it sold him years ago and calling the fight a "David and Goliath situation."

Carmie Elmore (pictured below), who owns the gas station at 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Manhattan (pictured above), told NBC New York that the city is flip-flopping on a deal that it struck with him when he first acquired the gas station.

Harlem gas station owner Carmie ElmoreElmore began renting the gas station from the city in 1981. And in 1995, he bought it under an urban renewal plan, though there was a stipulation in the contract that gave the city the right to buy it back. Elmore said, however, that this clause expired in 2008.

Elmore is claiming that the city is pushing to get the station back now that gentrification has improved the neighborhood.

"They didn't want it when it was in such terrible disarray over there," Elmore told the New York Post, "and now that things are good, they want to take it and do something different with it. I understand what they want, but I know it's not right, and I know it's not fair, and that's why we're fighting it."

To boot, Elmore has 20 employees working for him, and he wants to protect their jobs.

New York City's Economic Development Corporation told NBC New York in a statement that it "strongly disputes" Elmore's take on the ordeal. It is currently seeking proposals for development of mixed-use retail and residential space where Elmore's gas station stands now.

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"It's like a David and Goliath situation," Elmore said, "but you've got to [fight] if you want to stay here, and I want to stay.

"I call this my little corner of the world," he continued," so I plan to be here until I can't do it anymore."

Officials said that the city "will be responding in court."

In another recent property-related case pitting the city against an individual: A graffiti artist said that the NYPD infringed on his right to free speech when officers painted over his mural depicting the word "murderers" and coffins marked with the names of several public agencies, including the NYPD.

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