Published 4/2/2012 in Progress
By ANGIE HAFLICH
In December, Finney County Economic Development Corp. President Lona DuVall presented a development proposal to the Holcomb City Council for land located near the U.S. Highway 50/Big Lowe Road intersection in Holcomb.
Laurie Sisk/Telegram \ Since the completion of the U.S. Highway 50/North Big Lowe Road overpass last summer, city officials in Holcomb have envisioned development in and around the busy intersection. Most recently, city council members are considering a hotel company that would like to build southwest of the highway's intersection. The area pictured in this photo is to the northwest of the intersection.
The new T-shaped intersection at Big Lowe Road and Buffalo Jones Avenue is part of the recently-completed, four-lane project along U.S. 50/400 from west of Holcomb to Third Street in Garden City and that includes the new overpass.
KDOT officials have said the combined numbers of all three legs of the T-intersection justify the addition of traffic signals, which are likely to be completed by the end of the year, according to Holcomb officials.
DuVall said she had been approached by some business prospects that showed interest in the property. One of the business prospects is a hotel company. State transportation officials and developers are drafting a site plan. Eventually, the site also could include one or two restaurants and possibly a gas station.
Holcomb Mayor Gary Newman is behind the plan.
"It's an opportunity to kind of build an infrastructure for tax base dollars we need, in order to do more things for streets, new neighborhoods, and even go back and fix some of the old streets that don't have pavement on them today," Newman said. "I think it's a great opportunity. A hotel is going to bring restaurants and potentially a gas station."
Newman said he thinks the addition of a gas station would be invaluable.
"My primary focus is to try to get a gas station out there simply because every truck that goes to Tyson has to go by their twice," he said, adding that the closest gas stations are currently in Deerfield and Garden City.
Costs that the city of Holcomb would need to cover for development of the land involve the infrastructure.
"The sewer out there, the water and sewer out there, we have an opportunity in how we're going to have to do that. We can come up with a big chunk of money initially to start to do it 100 percent right away, or we can kind of build it as we go," Newman said.
The consensus of the Holcomb City Council favored the plan.
"We would like to do the development. We'd like to see the growth, the potential for sales tax revenue coming in," Council Member Tracy Davis said, adding that costs will be at the forefront.
"With any kind of growth, there will be expenses, but we are all in support of it," she said.
Newman said that while feedback he has received from Holcomb residents has been mixed, most have favored the plan.
"The one thing I hear with concern from the public is, 'If we have the hotel and it brings in a couple of restaurants, what's that going to do to the small-town stuff like Thirsty Dawg, El Rancho," he said, referring to the local bar and eatery. "I don't see them losing a whole lot because they've built great names for themselves. Ron's Market, they've all built great names."
Both DuVall and Newman said one advantage would be the development's location.
"It's kind of like I told their city council, the great thing about that property is we can develop it, they get the benefit of it and really they don't have to look at it. ... Holcomb, that's what they are prided on, it's a small town, everybody knows everybody and that property is perfect because it kind of keeps it out on the edge of town. ... It's not going to increase traffic to them. It's kind of a sweet deal," DuVall said. "That is the only access point to Tyson, that road is the way you get there, and it's a good opportunity for Holcomb to capitalize on that traffic going by."
Newman agreed with this aspect of the site.
"We're a bedroom community. There are a lot of people who have lived in Holcomb for a long, long time and they're used to that small town. ... This benefits the residents because it will be in the city limits, yet it's out there," he said. "By no means is Holcomb ever going to be a bigger city, but there's the need, and there is certainly a desire for some growth. The people want it to be small growth and not at a very fast pace."
Newman said that the project also could be a source of employment opportunities.
"That gives opportunity for more jobs out there, certainly temporary while it's being constructed. There's a lot of labor out here — both skilled and unskilled — that could use that full-time employment, and then there will be long-term, full-time employment," he said. "Teenage jobs, too. If we get a gas station and a couple of restaurants, there's wait staff, busboys — teenage opportunities. There aren't a lot of jobs for teenagers to get in Holcomb. ... If we have something that's right there, that's a whole new picture for Holcomb youth that we've never had."
The developer is interested in two acres, out of 38 acres of land owned by Everett Miller.
"We're in a unique position because we have landowners who want to see Holcomb be successful, and are very willing to work with the city. As long as the schools benefit and the city is benefiting, they are willing to work. We're fortunate in that they have been in the community a long time, and they want to see the community successful, so up to this point, none of them have been opposed to any type of attempt at growth," Newman said.
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