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A Shell of Its Former Self?

The Shell station in Preston Royal, not exactly full service today

This morning I drove past the Shell gas station in Preston Royal, only to find it surrounded by a chain link fence with the Shell logo ripped from the roof. The station, formerly a Texaco, is one of the few in the area offering full service and a garage; God knows how many times I had a flat fixed there.

Suffice it to say, the place at the moment has the look of yet another gas station about to tumble in the name of progress -- by which I mean, of course, yet another corner bank. Only, after much digging this morning, there's good news for folks in the neighborhood who'd hate to see that corner turn into a drive-thru ATM.

A call this morning to Shell HQ in Houston hasn't revealed much; two hours and four calls later, and still no word. But city officials to whom I spoke today, including Leif Sandberg in the city's building inspection division, say there are no records of demolition or renovation permits being filed with the city for that address -- because, turns out, the station's just being refitted with new underground gas tanks, according to Tom Buonanno of MSCS, Shell's contractor on the project. He says doesn't know how long it'll take, only that Shell's a good couple of weeks from even starting the refit.

And as for the removal of the Shell sign, Buonanno insists it's common for service stations to "de-image a property, so customers don't pull in and get frustrated." Turns out, it's just better they're confused. --Robert Wilonsky

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