Brian Chilson
UNDERGOING REHAB: Former Esso station by Capitol.

Capitol neighborhood travelers may have noticed that work is underway on the long derelict service station across Third Street at M.L. King.

Providence Properties LLC bought the property in 2013 from the estate of John  Green, who’d long operated the station. Providence is headed by Daniel Bryant, the restaurant owner whose latest venture, Hill Station, just opened on Kavanaugh Boulevard in Hillcrest.

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Bryant tells me work is underway to restore the station to its original exterior appearance. The baked enamel steel panels on the exterior have been removed for the rehab work, but will be restored. Also to be retained are the three roll-up doors on mechanics’ bays.

His plan is to lease the building for commercial use and says he has a tentative client who’ll use the space for offices but isn’t ready to announce the client as yet.

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The redevelopment was helped by a collaborative effort of the Capitol Zoning District Commission and the UA Little Rock Public History program, which got the structure added to the National Register of Historic Places. That qualified the rehab work for tax credits. Built in 1957 by Standard Oil of Louisiana, it’s described as a “rare mid-century service station.” The nomination formsays the station “displays the ideal of function over form in its simplicity of design and floorplan.” It’s an “excellent, intact” example of stations of the era and “evocative of the American car culture.”

John Green purchased it in 1971 and operated it under a number of oil company flags, including Esso, Exxon., 76 and Sinclair. He died in 2011. There’s a world of property-specific and broader history at the historic places  link.

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PS: This property is adjacent to parcels the state purchased for a new office building for the insurance department. Instead, the state got stuck buying a building in Riverdale originally intended for an industrial project. It vacated the existing insurance department building and space occupied by a number of other agencies to find a way to fill the Riverdale building. Lots of money lying around to buy property apparently, but not to increase spending on public schools or an earned income tax credit or other comfort for the working poor.,