A downtown D.C. gas station known for its infamously high prices reopened Tuesday with a new look, new ownership — and new prices.
The former Exxon station near the Watergate Hotel in Northwest that regularly charged more than $5 for a gallon of gasoline and routinely exceeded the surrounding competition's prices by an average of a dollar or more debuted this week as a Valero station.
Prices at the station, which were $5.04 per gallon in November when it closed, were $3.79 per gallon Tuesday after the 4 p.m. relaunch.
Eddie Hassan, operator of the station, said the price drop was directly related to the change — a change customers appreciate.
Mr. Hassan and his staff moved to the new Rock Creek Valero from the Rock Creek Exxon station in Adams Morgan, which he had operated for 30 years.
"It makes me sad but I've got no choice but to have a new site," Mr. Hassan said.
The price of gas at the Watergate station — and at other stations owned by Eyob "Joe" Mamo, owner of the Valero and the primary owner of Capitol Petroleum Group — has long been a point of contention. Mr. Mamo owns 45 gas stations in the District, according to a 2011 report in the Washington City Paper. Last year, he beat an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria, legislation that would have threatened his operation failed in the D.C. Council, and the city's attorney general dropped an investigation into claims that he inflated prices.
Mr. Mamo, who did not return a call to his company seeking comment, released a statement at the outset of the attorney general's investigation saying he does not control the gas prices. The station operator and the global market control the price, he said.
Mr. Mamo and the Watergate station's former operator publicly traded accusations over who was to blame for the high prices.
Mr. Hassan was sympathetic to the problems.
"It's not easy running a gas station," he said.
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