More than 10 new businesses are under development along Interstate-35 in Italy.
Decorated initially with a single Exxon gas station along with a small McDonald’s installed in-house, the intersection of I-35 and LR Campbell Road has seen several businesses break ground and open doors over the past several months.
For starters, the smaller McDonald's was removed from the Exxon and is now a standalone brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“They were so busy that they had to build a full-sized McDonald's,” Italy Mayor Jackie Cate said.
Additional restaurant developments include Denny’s, Taco Bell, Subway and Carls Jr. The city plans to add a Golden Chick inside Exxon to replace McDonald's. A coffee shop and a Jack-In-The-Box are also under construction in the three lots behind McDonald's.
Other developments include a Love’s Travel Shop, a Dollar General store, a Spring Market and an Italy Inn hotel right behind Exxon.
The Shell gas station is also in the process of rebuilding after an accidental fire it suffered in May. The station hopes to reopen next month.
City Secretary Amber Cunningham said Italy finished the fiscal year with $459,000 in sales tax — roughly $10,000 less than the previous year due to remodels and repairs on I35. However, the city does expect a 33 percent sales tax increase for FY2018-19 thanks largely to the new businesses on I35.
Cate stated individual business owners purchased the land from the previous owners and developed all of the properties. He said the current owners realized the economic potential for businesses on the highway and hopped on the opportunity.
“I think people realized that the interstate traffic is just crazy,” he remarked. “With the Loves opening and the trucks coming in and out, it’s just crazy out there, on the weekends especially.”
Cate said the city is also looking to plant a housing division behind the Shell Gas station. They’ve already plotted the land and are having conversations with the property owner on when development could begin.
“We need to get more rooftops in the city,” Cate said. “There’s at least five or six that I know of that are going on empty properties in this city. That right there would be icing on the cake.”
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX