Nopoulos buys Midway Oil by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · June 21, 2013
West Branch resident and volunteer Tony Nopoulos purchased on June 12 the former Midway Oil Co. building and plans to turn it into a new business.
Nopoulos said he does not yet know what kind of business he will put in the former gas station, but said he will start by cleaning up the building and hiring local contractors to make repairs.
“I have a handful of business plans,” he said.
The property, at 209 East Main Street, is valued at $106,000 and occupies less than half an acre. It sits just north of Village Green and many residents have long hoped to see it returned to use.
Nopoulos, who moved to West Branch in 1996, said he has driven by the building for years saying “Somebody ought to do something with that place.”
“Now it’s one big project I’ve gotten myself into,” he said. He is working on the building with wife Peggy. “Ever since (Midway Oil) last leased it, it’s been sitting without T.L.C.”
Nopoulos worked with Main Street West Branch to secure the building, and even took out a partial, low-interest, small business loan from the local organization to help purchase it.
“I’d like to give kudos to them for their support and assistance,” he said.
Main Street Iowa design consultant Tim Reinders visited West Branch in May, looking at several downtown buildings, including the Midway Oil building. At the time he said it could be reused for something other than a gas station — like a pizza place, bike rental, or ice cream store — because it has a “nice brick facade, and a nice presence.”
Main Street West Branch Program Director Mackenzie Krob said the organization has been working with Nopoulos “behind the scenes” to help facilitate the purchase. Krob thinks the price came down for Nopoulos because Casey’s General Store decided to leave downtown for a location near Interstate 80; she felt Midway Oil was holding out for Casey’s to purchase the lot.
“It was great timing,” Krob said of the price drop, Reinders’ visit and Nopoulos’ interest. “And we wanted to support it. We know it’s a good loan.”
Nopoulos said he expects to get the building cleaned up, for the most part, in about 30 days.
Nopoulos said he wished the building had been cared for rather than sit.
“Ding-dong, the witch is dead — the out-of-towners are gone,” he said. “It’s a nice-looking building, but it’s gone from being an eyesore to almost invisible. Some people, who live within three blocks of it, have forgotten what it looked like. They’ve gotten used to (ignoring) it.”
Community State Bank provided the loan for the building.
Nopoulos is a leader in Boy Scouts Pack 156.
Dave Hosier, owner of Parkside Service, the business just east of there, was also the last occupant of the Midway Oil building. He leased the building for a gas station and convenience store for 11 years until moving out 15 years ago. Prior to him, Joe Ruzek used the building for the same purpose.
“I think it’s fantastic that somebody bought it,” Hosier said. “Something needs to be done. I figured it would be cleaned up and resurrected or condemned and torn down.”