After more than half a century of business on Capitol Hill, the Hilltop Service Station on 15th Ave E is slated to be no more. Customers have been told the station’s last day of service is coming — possibly this week.
Cadence Capital, a Colorado-based real estate and development firm, finalized an agreement to purchase the property last month, according to King County records, making the deal official and paving the way for the property to be acquired and redeveloped. Financial details and terms of the memorandum of agreement are not yet publicly available.
Representatives from Cadence Capital have not responded to our inquiry about the agreement with the trust that owns the property and owner Mike Burke, who leases the property from the trust, declined do discuss specifics of the situation at this time.
The Hilltop Service Station, established in 1966, has been a one-stop-shop for Capitol Hill residents looking to get their cars fixed, fine-tuned, and filled with gasoline. With brand new buildings popping up left and right, and an increasing portion of the city’s population carless, service stations are increasingly few and far between. Burke said he transitioned to become an independent full-service station after Texaco began converting its stations to convenience stores with self-service gas.
“We provide a continuity of service,” Burke said. “It has to do with relationships with people, not just chains and customers. We’ve had decades-long customers because we’ve become friends.”
The station stopped selling gas in October of last year, right around the same time word that the property was up for sale spread. But, according to the agreement with Cadence, the deal had already been struck — though not signed — that spring.
Gary Bergamini owned Hilltop Service Station since the 1960s. After he passed away in November 2016, his heirs took control of the assets in a trust operating on their behalf. A Capitol Hill community effort to save the station organized a meeting last October in an effort to keep the business operating, but to no avail.
Change continues to ripple up and down 15th Ave E. Last year, Capitol Hill-based developer Hunters Capital purchased the block of buildings including the neighborhood’s QFC for $11.25 million. In May, neighborhood business, organizations, and residents gathered to discuss how best to shape community needs for the changing street.
Though at this time we don’t know what will happen to the Hilltop property, the process of closing Hilltop has begun. Customers have been told they are unable to schedule new repair work and the crowded mass of vehicles awaiting work in the station’s parking areas has steadily declined.
“I’m sad it’s a part of the community soon to change dramatically,” Burke told CHS. “But at some point one has to accept the reality and move forward.”
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