Above, the Circle K, at Packard and Stadium, as it appeared in 2007. (If you click through to Google Maps, you can play with the dates and see 2011, 2014, and 2016 versions too.)
The City Council approved the redevelopment of the Circle K fuel station and convenience store at Stadium and Packard. The original building was constructed in the mid-1950s. Once a full-service gas station, it was a Hop-In by the time I moved to town (remember the “Big Bunny” fountain drinks? no? uh, me either).
Hop-In stores were once ubiquitous around Ann Arbor. There were Hop-In stores in fuel stations on Stadium near Westgate, Packard and Stadium (subject of this article), South University and Forest (the corner that was most recently Burger Fi — that corner is probably getting a post of its own sometime soon), and — without gasoline — North Maple Road, in the little shopping center just north of Miller (it’s independently owned and called “Maple In-N-Out” now).
The chain sold to Clark Retail in the 90s, at which point they were all converted to Clark’s “On The Go” brand. Not too long after, Clark sold its convenience store business to 7-Eleven, but not the Ann Arbor area stores. Those went to the Québécois convenience giant Couche-Tard. CT initially converted them to their Mac’s brand, before realizing that we were closer to San Dimas than Montreal, and branding them as Circle K.
CT owns and franchises convenience stores all over the world, and the grand plan is to make them all Circle Ks in the end, so on like five continents you’ll run into one eventually.
If you’ve been to other Circle Ks in the area (Prospect and Clark in Ypsi, Carpenter and Michigan Ave in Pittsfield Twp) you might have noticed they are considerably more up-to-date. It took a long time to get this one going because of the community – specifically the folks who live on Iroquois, directly south of the station. There is a lot of grass between the old building and the back of the lot, which makes it a little more bearable to live behind. Early plans for a new building moved it closer to the Iroquois street houses. A lot of people need to use a gas station, but nobody wants to live, like, ten feet from a gas station. It took a lot of back-and-forth but according to the report, “a majority of the neighbors” are okay with this. Circle K is Building A Wall and planting a net gain of 32 trees, including some to help dampen the sound and light leaking into their yards.
Anyway, other Circle K stores in the area have nice little faux-brick accents, walk-in beer coolers, and “Froster” (slushie) machines, so expect to see those in the new store. It will still have eight pump handles, but they’ll be covered by a canopy in the new station. I’m pretty sure this gas station actually performed auto repair services back in the day and was converted to a convenience store, so I would expect the newer, “70% larger” building to be thinner and not as square because it won’t be designed to contain two repair bays. It also will have fourteen parking spots, which… I’ve never seen fourteen people in that store, but okay. Maybe football Saturdays.
Here’s an illustrated PDF from the council site that goes into significant detail.