The Legacy of Georgia State’s “Shady Shell”

Take a look inside the legacy of the shell and safety concerns for the new RaceTrac on campus. Photo Illustration by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

As the campus’ beloved “Shady Shell” met its demise during the 2017-18 school year, a successor as the only gas station on campus has risen above its grave: RaceTrac.

At the corner of Piedmont Avenue and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, the new gas station can be found attached to The Mix, the newest student apartments on campus. 

The Mix purchased and demolished both properties — the gas station and a dialysis clinic. Construction began on the new housing facility in early 2018 and finished up this summer allowing students to move in for the fall semester. 

In place of the “Shady Shell,” the RaceTrac stands bright and shiny, being so recently constructed, but it isn’t open yet.

The new location is the first of its kind for RaceTrac. It’s the first gas station with pumps attached to a housing complex like The Mix — making it RaceTrac’s first non-traditional brick and mortar store, according to Tomorrow’s News Today Atlanta.  

But for those who don’t remember the Shady Shell’s legacy, many students have fond memories of crazy nights at the old Georgia State landmark: nights filled with homeless encounters, low-riders and wild parking lot parties and experiences. On any given day or night, anything could happen in the parking lot shared by the station and adjacent clinic.

On the Georgia State subreddit, students shared their fondest stories of the late Shady Shell.

Crush1010 told the story of “almost getting jumped there.” 

“Some guy gave me a dollar, and apparently it was bait because his friend comes up to us and starts talking s— like he wants to fight,” the user said. “I left but they followed us for a minute.”

Other students also shared stories about the danger of the old gas station. 

“Someone almost tried to fight me because the cashier was taking too long to ring me up,” Kayvevo said. “I still miss that place.” 

The Georgia State University Police Department confirmed that there were frequent incidents at the Shell.

Chief of Police Joseph Spillane said that issues included crowds, loitering, shoplifting and altercations in the parking lot. 

“We used to have a patrol car there pretty much all the time just to make sure we kept an eye on it,” Spillane said.

In The Signal’s Reddit and Twitter posts about the station, most comments were positive, reminiscing about the days of the old Shady Shell.

While many Georgia State students may become acclimated to the presence of homeless people on campus, the Shell had a reputation among students for being one of the hottest panhandling spots on campus. 

“There was always some homeless dude asking me for money there talking about how he’s ‘been shot eight or nine times in his life,’” user SansSancity said on the university subreddit. 

When it comes to the new RaceTrac, GSUPD is expecting an increase in foot traffic but isn’t concerned about an increase in panhandling in the area. 

“The station is within the area where it is against the law to aggressively panhandle and we’ll handle that if we have an issue with it,” Spillane said. “We have not seen [aggressive panhandling] and we’ve been watching that corridor … I don’t anticipate it’s going to be a huge problem it’s just going to be busy.” 

Spillane said this hasn’t been an issue because the station isn’t open yet, but when it does, they’ll be monitoring it.

According to Megan Shannon, a representative for RaceTrac, the 120 Piedmont Ave. location is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2019, between October and December this year. Shannon also noted that the store will feature a “clean, well-lit parking lot and competitively priced fuel,” with eight pumps and a “Swirl World frozen desserts station.”

But will the new RaceTrac take on the Shady Shell’s legacy? Or will it forge a new path of its own?

Fusepatters on Reddit speculates that if they hire students, “it’ll be close to the same.”

Shannon made it clear that safety was of the utmost importance to RaceTrac especially at the new location. 

“The safety of our RaceTrac guests, team members and local community is of the utmost concern,” Shannon said. “We will have a variety of security protocols in place to protect our team members and guests as this location.”

GSUPD mirrored that sentiment. Spillane said he doesn’t expect a rise in crime, but he does expect an increase in activity between The Mix, The Commons and Piedmont Central housing which will require additional GSUPD patrols in the area. 

“There was a store there before that had incidents. So, this place will have similar incidents that the Shell gas station had,” Spillane said. “We do anticipate an increase in activity  because The Mix that just opened has over 600 beds.”

Additionally, the Georgia State purple route now picks up directly outside of the new RaceTrac, which is likely to increase the number of students frequenting the location and the need for security. Spillane said GSUPD’s pedestrian safety unit, the traffic unit, will be at work in the area as well.

“Anytime we move stops or increase stops, it does change our perception of how many cops we have to have in the area,” Spillane said.