2016-10-27 / Around Town

Neighbors Purchase Foley’s Service Station

By Olga Enger

Brad Cherevaty and Frank Doyle, owners of a neighboring business, The Fifth Element. Brad Cherevaty and Frank Doyle, owners of a neighboring business, The Fifth Element. After a 60-year run in the family, brothers Bill and Michael Foley handed over the keys to their historic Newport service station to Brad Cherevaty and Frank Doyle, owners of a neighboring business, The Fifth Element.

The new owners closed on the $885,000 transaction on Monday, Oct. 24. The 7,156-square-foot property at 105 Broadway was originally listed for $1.25 million on May 15, 2015.

The business owners were met with applause and cheers when they broke the news at a meeting of the Off-Broadway Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to grow our business on Broadway,” said Cherevaty. “We look forward to working closely with the neighborhood and city officials to realize the potential of the space.” The owners will continue to provide updates to the neighborhood association as the details are firmed up, he said.

The property, built in 1940, sits in Newport’s General Business zone.

“We had good interest over the course of the listing,” said agent Paul Leys of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty. The property was under contract last fall, but the agreement fell through. “Deals are funny, they don’t always go to closing,” said Leys.

At one point, city officials considered acquiring the property.

“Foley’s is an intriguing piece of property,” said City Manager Joseph Nicholson. “It’s smack dab in the middle of revitalized Broadway.” However, with other acquisitions on the horizon, Nicholson said it was not an appropriate time for the city to purchase an additional property.

“It’s great that local business owners purchased it,” Nicholson continued. “It’s the way the market is supposed to work. I’d love to know what they are going to do with it.”

For Bill Foley, the sale closed a long chapter in his family’s history.

“In 1960, the station was locked and closed down. The previous people that were in there couldn’t make a go of it,” said Foley.

At that time, his father, John Foley, rented and operated the Armory Service Station from Newport Oil Corp. The station was located at the site of the parking lot currently across the street from the Armory Antique Marketplace on Thames Street.

“The Gulf Oil Corporation approached my dad,” said Foley. “They wanted to reopen 105 Broadway. The negotiated and negotiated and finally agreed that my father would rent the building and operate the service center on Broadway.”

In the mid-1970s, Gulf Oil put a number of their properties on the market, including Foley’s Service Station.

“I had just gotten out of college. I decided I would like to follow in my father’s footsteps, along with my brother,” said Foley. In 1976 the brothers purchased the building from the oil company. They operated the facility as a Hertz rental car location, a repair garage, and the service station.

However, in the late 1990s, the government tightened environmental standards for underground gas tanks. To bring the station to compliance would have cost the brothers between $2 million and $4 million, which would require bank financing.

“Our pockets weren’t as thick as the oil companies’ pockets,” said Foley. In 1998, they shut down gasoline operations. The brothers continued the Hertz rental car operation until the building was put on the market. G&S Automotive currently rents the back of the building where the brothers once repaired cars.

When asked how he felt about the sale, Foley hesitated and leaned over to ask his wife, Mary.

“That’s a tough question. I guess my answer is, it’s bittersweet. I love what I did. But Mary and I worked all our lives. I would go to work early in the morning, and return late in the evening. Some weekends I worked, some weekends I didn’t. We never saw each other, but we were here, if that makes sense.”

He made a promise to Mary that they would make up for the lost time during their 42-year marriage. He vowed to take her to the beach every day during the summer.

He credits his wife for facilitating the sale. “The four of us sat down together, talked through the details, and then shook on it. Handshakes mean very much to me.”

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