Exploring the stubbornly reopening shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars of Capitol Hill might leave you feeling like you are in a different neighborhood. It has been a long time and things have changed. At Broadway and Pike, CHS did a double take at one of those uneasy changes.
The shifting tides of the major players in the transnational petrochemical industry have quietly redesigned a core corner of the neighborhood. The megacorp red and yellow are gone. In their place? A fresh coat of advertising nostalgia orange. The Broadway Shell is now a Broadway 76. The new look provides a new backdrop for nights out in Pike/Pine.
Owners Cyrus and Jinus Fiuzi purchased the station and the Capitol Hill property in 2009 for $1.35 million from Shell’s real estate wing and continued to operate the business under the brand. Previously, Shell acquired the property in its merger with Texaco. Operating a gas station in modern day Seattle is a complicated affair. The Fiuzis’ company must maintain licenses related to liquid fuel, underground storage, “vapor product,” retailing, tobacco sales, and liquor sales, in addition to being responsible for environmental factors of the business and the property.
CHS asked the gas station’s owners about the change but they declined comment.
Phillips 66, owner of the 76 brand, has been upgrading its stations and its “wholesale branded business, which encompasses some 6,500 sites in the U.S.”
“A modern, attractive image helps build loyalty with today’s consumer,” Mike O’Connor, Brand Image Manager at Phillips 66, said about the initiative. “We put the pedal to the metal in 2019, and December was a race to the finish with 263 completions — the most we’ve ever done.”
Phillips 66 has promised upgraded stations a “3.5% volume uplift” from the cosmetic overhaul.
Along the way, it has also added new locations like the Broadway and Pike station.
Shell, meanwhile, has faced backlash in Seattle over its environmental impact and tragedies like the 2010 Tesoro Anacortes Refinery disaster.
On Capitol Hill and in Central Seattle, gas stations are increasingly rare. The “new” 76 station is now one of only three service stations active on Capitol Hill proper including the Shell on E Madison, and the “old” 76 station at Broadway and Roy. The north Broadway station property, meanwhile, changed hands in 2017, purchased by ownership that also recently developed a nearby property. UPDATE: Oops! Four! The 7-11 on Madison still offers gasoline.
Developing the properties also comes with added challenges and costs. Developer Hunters Capital has managed years of soil clean-up as part of its plan to build a new mixed-use project on the property formerly home to the Hilltop Service Station, the last full service station on Capitol Hill, on 15th Ave E.
The ghosts of these old stations are all around you. Just a block from Broadway and Pike, the Broadway Crossing building now rises where the street’s Chevron station did its business.
And the ghosts go back further. Pike/Pine’s auto row bones from decades of 20th century dealerships and garages also included Broadway in the car friendly mix with super service stations up and down the street. Some credit Seattle with being home to the first ever gas station.
Some like Phillips 66 believe that despite initiatives to make it easier to own and operate electric cars in Seattle, gas stations won’t disappear.
“At Phillips 66 we understand that a tank of gas isn’t just a tank of gas,” a company press release on its new Houston concept station reads. “We are a launch pad for our consumers who are looking for new experiences and excitement, even in the everyday things. With fast flow pumps, mobile pay capabilities and an upgraded convenience store, our new HQ fuel site marks our brand’s commitment to exceed consumer expectations.”
For now, the station at Broadway and Pike holds on, with new paint, signs, and branding, as one of the last of its kind.
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