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Dried Up: Shell Station Unexpectedly Closes its Doors

Whitefish Bay's only gas station has been sold to a new owner after 51 years in business, 29 of which have been in its current location on Hampton Road.

One by one, drivers pulled into the lot of the old Harder's Shell station today expecting to fill up their gas tank, only to realize the gas pumps have disappeared and the store has been closed up.

"It just seemed so sudden," said customer Lori Ahrenhoerster. "I always got gas there."

The gas station at 303 E Hampton Road had been in business for decades before it closed Monday night. Harder's Amoco first opened in 1961 at Lydell Avenue and Hampton Road, and later switched to a Shell station and moved to its current location in 1983.

Gene Harder, who owns the gas station, said his parents sold the property without his knowledge for financial reasons. He said his dad retired in 1997, and he has operated the business ever since.

The sale of the Shell station has been very emotional for Harder, who has worked at the gas station for 45 years – ever since he was 12 years old.

"The phone's been ringing all day with people wondering what's going on," he said. "It's been very sad."

Village officials say they have not yet received any permit applications to reopen the business.

(This story was updated at 5:26 p.m. Oct. 2 to include comments from Gene Harder.)

Kathleen October 03, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I'm very saddened and disappointed. I feel like a friend has suddenly vanished. I, too, will go wherever Gene might re-open business. Harders has serviced my cars for 15 years, and I've always felt I could depend on them. What a loss to the neighborhood.
A WFB Resident October 03, 2012 at 08:20 PM
03-41-001677 HARTERS AMOCO STATION Cleanup has been approved at this location but some contamination remains. Due to this remaining residual contamination, one or more continuing obligations are applicable to this location (e.g., an asphalt cap or other barrier covering the contamination). For information specific to the continuing obligations at this location, read the Closure Letter within the GIS Registry Packet in the Documents section below. For general information on managing continuing obligations and residual contamination click here. You must contact DNR before constructing a well. Remaining contamination must be properly handled if disturbed. http://dnr.wi.gov/botw/SetUpBasicSearchForm.do?rtn=rb i don't think anyone can build on this property and if they do, it will cost a fortune to remove. If I was the buyer, I would of gotten an occupancy permit first.
noodle vendor October 03, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Several months there was a storm that knocked power out to Harders and surrounding businesses & homes. That evening one of the local news crews was out interviewing those without power. One of the people they interviewed was identified as the owner of the Shell station at Hampton & Santa Monica. It was not Gene but a man of middle eastern decent. As I live close by I've noticed since that time changes in their hours, personal etc. Best to Gene, he was always very kind to my mom, picking here up, dropping her off, etc etc, service that can be a rare find these days
Absolutelyfabulous October 03, 2012 at 09:01 PM
You can build, it's just a matter of how extensive the cleanup would be. In Shorewood, the Cornerstone development received a $100,000 grant from the state of WI for cleanup on that site which housed a Mobil.
Bob McBride October 03, 2012 at 09:55 PM
If you're not altering the footprint of the building (which wouldn't be necessary to convert the service bays to a convenience store and do other modifications to the interior), it's probably not a concern.

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