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Capitol Hill’s last independent service station’s days numbered as developer has deal for 15th Ave E corner

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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23 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s last independent service station’s days numbered as developer has deal for 15th Ave E corner

  1. I have noticed a mass exit out of Seattle this Summer and I am now understanding why. This sucks! The greed and entitlement is beyond anything I have ever seen. Good luck to the guys at Hilltop they have been amazing to the community and will be missed.

    • The owner died, his estate sold the property, and now someone purchased it. Greed isn’t what is happening here. It’s called commerce. And it’s how this all works. And people have been leaving Seattle as long as there’s been a Seattle. It’s called moving. It’s what people do.

  2. People make it sound like developers are forcing property owners to sell. As if it is involuntary. It’s not greedy developers swindling property owners into selling. Rather, changing times and owners cashing out while the market is at an all time high. Can you blame them? In this case, the owners inherited the property and stand to make millions of dollars.

    I walk past this service station frequently. I appreciate seeing what appear to be genuine connections and quality service but I won’t miss the lot of rotting cars or the nostalgia of auto era gone by.

  3. I have an older car with unscheduled emergencies and Hilltop had helped me out a lot with these. Being able to WALK to retrieve now-running car is a big deal. Being able to leave car/keys/and a note and then go off to work has been a big deal. It’s not nostalgia – having a decent service station in your neighborhood should be normal.

      • Yeah, just ask Jambi:

        “I wish, I wish, I wish I could magically take transit *from* everywhere *to* everywhere, any time, day or night, and it wouldn’t take 2+ hours to get anywhere!”

        Jambi will get right on that.

      • So predictable. So typical. Yes, I hate poor people. Yes, I hate transit. That’s why I’ve been a vanpool driver dating back more than 20 yrs and haven’t driven my car to work in 14 yrs. But you keep clicking those ruby slippers together and pretend it’s as simple as everyone “just giving up their car” for hours-long bus commutes to areas not well served, or plunking down more in Über or Lyft rides to everywhere than a car would cost. And clogging up Capitol Hill with even more Lyfts and Übers

      • Uber, Jim, not Über. One Uber (not Über) car does the job of yours and dozens of other cars. With fewer cars on the road, we’ll be able to destroy old parking lots and put buildings on them so that we can house more beautiful non-car-owning people. Heck, in a few years, with computaxis having replaced human-Ubers (not Übers), we’ll be able to eliminate street parking altogether. I know you’ll be upset — you’ll vote on a few ballot initiatives endorsed by the Seattle Index Card, formerly the Seattle Times — but face it, Jim, you’re always upset.

        Please drive your van carefully so that you don’t kill someone. Humans like you kill thousands of people with their vehicles every year.

      • @NoUmlaut vanpool drivers like Jim ensure that those with limited transportation options get to work safely. He’s likely even using a King County Metro vanpool van to do…. no need to be a dick toward someone just because you have some weird anti-driving fetish.

      • All who are so pro-Uber/Lyft should read the article in the Seattle Times today. According to a recent study by an independent transportation consultant, these services are actually increasing miles driven in a vehicle (by 94 million miles a year), thereby increasing congestion on our roads, and also they are not causing people to drive less.

  4. My vespa just got a nail in the tire I called scoot about on Denny guess what…They were just given a notice to vacate because the lot has been sold.

  5. They were my salvation as a car owner who knew nothing about cars. Terrific service always. They will be missed.

  6. Sad news. Mike Burke and his crew kept my 1989 Toyota running for years. They were professional and reasonable. Although I went carless after my Toyota died in 2014, I wish them all the best.