Tuesday, April 13, 2010
In 1984, Daniel Wallace, real estate manager for Uni-Marts Inc. of State College Pa. proposed the construction of a Uni-Mart self- service gas station/convenience store in a lot that was once described as run-down. The land was owned by a Wellsville doctor (the E.J Brown estate) but was formerly occupied by the Psi Delta Omega fraternity (now relocated across the street). The sale of the building did not include the terra cotta roof or copper plumbing, both of which had plans to be salvaged. Wallace wanted to demolish the house and put in a parking lot in the front of the building, adhering to the standard Uni-Marts layout. Citizens of Alfred were worried of traffic congestion and of the current zoning code, which said that a gas station cannot be within 500 ft. of a public assembly. Also, concerns of Uni-Mart becoming a shady student shortcut with the potential to corrupt pedestrian traffic, plagued locals. The parking lot was moved to the back, with less parking spots than expected: Wallace fought against the idea of one parking space for each 200 ft. of floor space. Wallace explained his reasoning to put eight spots rather than twelve in the back of Uni-Marts in saying, "our customers are in our stores an average of 2.02 minutes and spend an average of $1.79," (in 1984) "those additional parking spaces will never be used, but I'll go on record saying we will add them." I sometimes walk past Uni-Mart on the secret path that connects AU to AS and see the parking lot packed to full capacity. I wonder if Wallace is kicking himself now for not super-sizing his lot more. After nearly 7 months of negotiations and deliberations, Uni-Mart was erected with a nice and commercial looking red plastic sign, that some Alfredians happened to object to. Plans to have a gas pumps, however, were never realized.