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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Council returns part of Midway Station to industrial zoning; Shell station spurred more development at I-64

By Dylan Russell
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Longtime industrial zone in purple; new industrial outlined in purple
Midway Station may not be all for naught after all. Without debate on Monday, the city council approved potential developer Dennis Anderson’s request to rezone 43.5 acres of land on the north side of the property.

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 Interstate 64 interchange has already seen some development recently. Late last year, a Shell station and convenience store opened on the former Weems property on the other side of the interchange, now known as the Green Gables development, owned by Anderson.

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.

1 comment:

David Shaw said...

I agree the Shell station is proving to be a popular business, but it seems that it has forced the close of the other, admittedly sub par, but locally owned gas station nearby. And McDonald's coming is a mixed blessing. Great, it's a national brand, but how much business will it cannibalize from our excellent local restaurants? And how many people pulling off for a Big Mac will actually make the effort to visit our town? It seems to me the only benefit we can claim is a modest increase in employment tax. To me the benefits of this development are far outweighed by the long term detriments. Do we really want our exit to look like every other Interstate exit in the country?