Raza Ali is the new owner of the large, fresh, clean Washtenaw Shell gas station and convenience store at the corner of Huron Pkwy. and Washtenaw that finally opened in early November. “People are excited that we’re open. They’re adding it to their before-work routine,” says Samantha Bodnar at the counter while Ali is tallying an invoice. What’s Bodnar’s job title? “I’m going to make her assistant manager,” says Ali gratefully, possibly a-spur-of-the-moment decision based on her cheerful, quick-thinking facility with the sound bite. Bodnar also points out that Shell has a deal with Kroger. You can swipe your Kroger card at the pump and redeem “fuel points” to get a 10c-a-gallon discount (with some restrictions, explained on the Shell website).
The property owner is Kassem Beydoun, who owns two other Shell stations in Ann Arbor (on Plymouth and Jackson roads) and others in southeastern Michigan. Beydoun started the remodel of the old-style service station a long time ago: with Arbor Hills Shopping Center going up next door, it was crying for an overhaul. The city approved plans in 2009, and Beydoun closed for construction in 2013. He didn’t expect the station, on one of the city’s busiest intersections, to be idled for well over a year.
This past September, general contractor Nasser Choucair said the problem was mainly DTE. “It took them seven months to put in the transformer we needed when we wanted to go from 400 to 800 amps.” That and the wet summer, which slowed down the outdoor concrete work. Choucair is an architect in the business of “flipping all these old gas stations. Last year we did twenty.”
Washtenaw Shell, 3240 Washtenaw, 780-7405. Sun.-Thurs. 6 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 6 a.m.-midnight. shell.us
The Sunoco station on W. Stadium is closed, and the pumps have been removed. Those pumps were the first in Washtenaw County to offer E85 ethanol fuel, says a 2006 press release put out by the Ann Arbor Area Clean Cities Coalition, and still floating around the Internet–Congressman John Dingell and Mayor John Hieftje spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony there. The busy little convenience store inside used to carry not only chips and soda, but money orders, DVD rentals, kerosene, and phone cards. Owner Abraham Marzban couldn’t be reached.