By Dylan Russell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
|Longtime industrial zone in purple; new industrial outlined in purple|
What was once zoned as industrial, then residential is now industrial again, because the Woodford County Economic Development Authority has prospective industrial buyers for the tract, which could create hundreds of jobs.
|Midway Station is visible across I-64 from the Shell. (Photo by Dylan Russell)|
The success of the Shell station showed the viability of property and helped get the ball rolling on Midway Station, Anderson said before the April 10 meeting at which the Woodford County Planning Commission recommended the rezoning.
Anderson and city officials have said there is a synergy to the two tracts: The convenience store created a nearby where Midway Station workers could eat and shop, and helped attract McDonald’s Corp., which has received approval for a restaurant on the site. That will make the interchange even more attractive to business and industry, they say.
In March, Anderson told the Messenger, “We have been aiming for big brands that say, ‘This is a for-real location.’” Mayor Tom Bozarth has said that a McDonald’s would be a good thing for the development.
The Shell station sits right off I-64 and is easily visible to interstate traffic. Many cars flock off of the interstate to get gas and food such as biscuits, fried chicken, pizza and other quick bites to go.
Working behind the front register this week was Melissa Wilson, a Midway native. Asked whether the business attracts mostly local or highway travelers, she said, “We have both. I’m a local, and we needed this store.”
Brandy Howard, a Frankfort native and nurse at the University of Kentucky, stopped to get gas on her way to work Tuesday.
“I forgot to get gas earlier, so I stopped here since it is right off of the interstate,” said Howard.
Many license plates of cars getting gas were from different counties, so there is plenty of highway traffic. McDonald’s would provide interstate traffic with a nationally known place to eat close to the gas station, and could draw people into Midway.
The grand prize of the development is a hotel. A gas station and a McDonald’s would bring Midway that much closer to obtaining a hotel, which Bozarth has said is a primary goal of development for Midway.
A hotel nearby could bring more people into Midway and make the town more of a gateway for Woodford County, which has bed and breakfasts but no hotels – and thus little revenue from the lodging tax that is used for tourism promotion.
So, the Shell Station may have been a big stepping stone for the interchange area, playing a pivotal role in helping make something out of Midway Station, perhaps making the city's “failed industrial park” a success after all.