Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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February 22, 2014

Jacksonville sees rise in new business construction sites

JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville is riding a wave of new construction as business sites go up throughout the city.

“I know our building permit fees are cheaper than other municipalities, but I attribute (interest) to business models coming together,” said City of Jacksonville building official Jody Watson. “A lot of companies had been holding onto their money because of the recession, but now building in general is having a slight increase here within the last few months, and a lot of investors are starting to do speculation work.”

Investors like Domino’s and Wingstop, national franchises who are constructing restaurants in Jacksonville, are inside buildings that will offer additional lease space for retailers.

“Domino’s is starting construction on the shell of their building next to Sonic, and it’s going to be a small strip center with tenants other than their store,” he said, adding that Wing Stop will be located at Howard and Jackson Streets.

“There’s a building there that’s being moved, so it’ll be a couple of weeks before they start construction,” he said.

On the north end of U.S. 69, Steve Thompson, former owner of Thompson Oil Company, which operated several convenience store-gas stations, has launched a new venture not far from where the new Bacon Auto Country dealership will be located.

Jake’s Market and Grill, located in the 3200 block of North Jackson Street across from VFW Post 3984, is a 7,700-square-foot project that will feature a convenience store with gas pumps, along with a restaurant, in a building that has two additional lease spaces.

“I’ve been in the gasoline business here for a very long time, and I sold out a couple of years ago. But I’ve been trying to get back into business, and this is the only place that really stood out in Jacksonville that had room for a nice-sized store,” Thompson said.

The decision to construct a site that featured multiple businesses came naturally as he considered future growth of the area.

“Of course, it’s anybody’s guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised with Bacon moving out (here) that somewhere outside of town, there’ll be a hotel out this way,” he said.

The city's northward sprawl is something that’s crossed Watson's mind too.

“Highway 69 continues to draw commercial business to Jacksonville, and it means we’re growing – it seems like everybody wants a piece of U.S. 69,” he said.

Montie Reed of L&M Construction of Gladewater, which oversees the Jake’s project, agreed, saying the Bacon dealership will draw people to the area.

“There’s going to be a lot of traffic going through this area, and it’s a really good place (for new business) to come in,” he said.

Watson estimates it won’t be too much longer that other national franchises will begin looking at Jacksonville as a favorable site for their businesses.

“Especially when you’re looking at franchises that want to expand, who are looking for areas where they don’t have any other stores,” he said. “I don’t think it’ll be long before others come into Jacksonville.”

Not only will these new ventures provide employment, they'll impact local sales tax revenue, he added.

“You’ll definitely see an increase in sales taxes, and in the long term, the city in general will benefit from having more on the tax rolls and collecting property taxes,” such as with the recent opening’s of Denny’s Restaurant and Little Ceasar’s Pizza, Watson said.

“It’s a pretty substantial investment that they’re making in the community,” he said.

The shell for Jake’s Market and Grill is up, and contractors are hanging sheetrock inside and doing masonry work on the exterior, along with setting up the infrastructure for the fuel bays.

Work began this past fall, and Thompson and Reed say the project has been pushed behind schedule because of bouts of inclement weather during the past few months.

“We’re probably six weeks behind,” Thompson said, adding that initially, he had hoped to open the store at the beginning of the year.

“We’ve fought (the weather) the whole way,” Reed explained. “So now we’re pushing for the end of March.”

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