There’s been a gasoline service station at 220 Main Street in downtown for decades and, in fact, it was once the business enterprise of a former mayor of the City of St. Joseph and former owner Rolf Ovik ran the business for 44 years, but it will likely be well into 2019 before operational gas pumps are back and ready for your pit stop thanks to the forthcoming reconstruction there by American Gas & Oil Company based in Sparta, Michigan. The AGO Citgo is being replaced with a new building this fall and winter.
The entire site is completely enclosed in temporary chain link cyclone fencing and a bulldozer was standing at the ready this morning to begin the demolition process to take the building down so that contractors canstart all over with a fresh new parcel. While the tear-down likely will go fast, reconstruction could take considerably longer.
When contractors gutted the AGO Citgo service station and convenience store at Napier & Niles in the Southtown neighborhood of the city last spring the project had been targeted to take roughly 6 to 8 weeks for the makeover. Instead, the plodding project took a marathon 14 weeks to finish. One of the store clerks at the recently re-opened station at 2501 Niles Avenue, across from CVS Pharmacy, says that a different contractor has been hired for the downtown project.
The stem to stern makeover at the Niles Avenue convenience store resulted in the elimination of the car wash facility there, and a gutted building that went almost down to the stud walls to start over. Stripped to the bare walls and rebuilt from top to bottom, the AGO convenience store now gleams from wall to wall and ceiling to floor. New restrooms have been added, a walk-in beer cave is now part of the building where the car wash once stood, and the building has a completely new look with a soaring entry marked by pillars, a sleek coffee island at the center of the store and an expanded beverage station offering not only soft drinks, but on-demand smoothies in a variety of flavors.
Even the clerks who man the store have a streamlined new station with easier access to everything they need to do the job quickly and efficiently. That is the goal of the store slated to open in the New Year in downtown St. Joseph across from the St. Joseph Post Office.
American Gas & Oil also owns the AGO Citgo at Niles Road and I-94 in St. Joseph Township. That station will be the final project of the three and will be replaced after the central business district project is complete sometime next year. American Gas & Oil has reportedly purchased a substantial tract of land at that interchange and clerks say that the service station and car wash facility there will also be bulldozed to make way for a full-scale, diesel-farm, truck stop. That station, located at 3176 Niles Road, will be the largest of the three operations when work is completed.
American Gas & Oil first converted 19 gas stations across West Michigan to the Citgo brand from BP Amoco properties starting in the summer of 2014, which at that point resulted in 27 AGO Citgo branded stations. At that point American Gas & Oil President Jason Berris was thrilled with the Citgo partnership calling the oil company, “A huge supporter of locally owned businesses.” He also appreciated the opportunity “to offer fair pricing, the convenience of local terminals and a commitment to community involvement.”
Bottom line on it all…if the downtown Citgo in St. Joe was your morning pit stop for coffee or fuel, you’re officially on hold at that site until sometime next year. Stay tuned.