Construction has started on Central Station, a convenience store that will be added to the existing CITGO service station at the corner of Oak and Locust streets.

The Conway Historic District Commission approved a 300 square-foot addition to the station in March, including two handicapped-accessible restrooms, an office and renovation to the existing structure.

The construction permit was issued in October and co-owners Phil and Diana Kirkland broke ground the week after Thanksgiving on a 345 square foot addition.

The concrete slab was poured this week and the concrete blocks will start going up in a week or so, Phil said.

Phil worked at Conway’s Central Fire Station across the street for 24 years. Then he and wife Diana ran a convenience store at 286 E. German Lane.

"It demanded more time than what we wanted to do," Phil said, "and we have always wanted that downtown location."

Phil has been in negotiations with the owners of the CITGO station for about three years, and they agreed to add a convenience store element.

"We just thought the downtown merchants — and with the urban renewal coming in — it would be neat to have a small neighborhood store," he said.

The convenience store will be based around a fire station theme with the old service bays being renovated into dining areas for downtowners to have a cup of coffee or grab lunch.

"We’re going to have coffee and fountain drinks with crushed ice, but as far as the menu goes, we’re not completely locked down yet," Phil said.

Phil says it’s too early to say when the store will open, but when it does it will sell an assortment of small convenience store items such as cigarettes, sodas and gum, as well as some grocery items like milk and bread.

"We’re just going at it slow," he said. "We’re not in any hurry."

The filling station will remain in tact, and transition to a full-service station with attendants on hand to pump gas, check tires and oil and clean windshields.

"They’ve done a good job on Downtown Conway, and we want to add something special," Phil said.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)