Is FM 1417, U.S. 75 becoming a gas corner?
Note: This story is an update on a similar story written one year ago before the Quiktrip and LoneStar locations at this corridor were completed.
Over the past year, Sherman has seen significant growth and interest in its southern region including the FM 1417 corridor. Many projects remain in various stages of development, but one only has to look to the intersection with U.S. Highway 75 to see the telltale signs of growth.
The four corners of the intersection have filled out with gas stations perched on each side thanks to two new establishments that were completed in the last 365 days. While all four stations are now open, the question remains on if south Sherman is prepared to support all four.
“I think time will tell; market forces kind of take care of that,” said City Manager Robby Hefton. “There has been significant investment on two of those corners and that is a highly trafficked area, but that is kind of obscured by the fact that we have construction ongoing at U.S. Highway 75.”
Currently, the four corners at the intersection are occupied by a Douglass Distributing location, a Circle K, a Shell station and the city’s second QuikTrip location.
Messages to Circle K and Shell corporate officers seeking comment were not returned as of Friday.
For developers with Douglass Distributing the road to building a new gas station has been a long one. The chain first needed to acquire the land, which was the previous site of a fire station. The construction phase saw significant delays due to continued rainfall, which set back opening day from spring 2019 to November of last year.
“The store was kind of new for us,” said Brad Douglass, CEO of Douglass distributing. “It is exceeding our budget expectations on it. In terms of fuel sales, we are seeing a decrease, more so in the Dallas area and more so in the urban area than the rural area.”
Douglass attributed the drop in fuel sales to the COVID-19 pandemic with many people working from home and staying in rather than traveling. While fuel sales have recovered to pre-COVID levels in Texoma, the effects are still being felt in the Metroplex.
Douglass said the store did see steady fuel sales over the summer with many summer travelers electing to take a short trip to Lake Texoma instead of taking lengthier trips across the country.
“The airlines were devastated by this so what we have seen is less travel by air and more travel by car,” he said.
These lake-bound travelers also led to an increase in the station’s ethanol-free gas sales.
With regard to FM 1417, Douglass admitted that Douglass Distributing was trying to get into the corridor early on in the area’s development. While traffic may not be fully developed yet, he said the company is willing to play the long game with roadway.
“We are early in the development in that sector of Sherman, but as far as residential, there is going to be quite a bit in that part of town,” he said. “As development comes, the high school is completed and everything fills in, we will be fine. We are early to it and that’s okay.
“That’s when you can get there. Once it is developed, it is impossible to get in on those corners.”
Representatives for QuikTrip said they also view the corridor as a long-term investment. This March, the gas distribution company followed up its first Sherman location along FM 691 with a second station on the northwest corner of FM 1417.
Through the first five months, officials said the second station saw strong sales despite some restrictions.
“Outside of that, we have done fairly well since we’ve been at that location,” QuikTrip spokesperson Aisha Jefferson-Smith said.
She also said the site has seem some limitations on what it can offer during this time. The rollers and other self-serve food options have been off the menu during the pandemic.
Still, the company sees value at the intersection both now and in the future.
“We saw a great opportunity to be in a great community,” she said. “The traffic was already there and the patterns there. We felt it would be a great opportunity to keep the traffic flow that is there.
“When we go into a new location we are looking long term always.”
Meanwhile at the city, officials said it will be up to market demands on if the intersection needs four stations, and redevelopment may be the answer.
When those two gas stations were put in, the ground under the other two gas stations became significantly more valuable,“ Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.
Outside of the four stations, developers have eyes on other parcels along the intersection and have eyed one just south of Douglass Distributing for development in what they are calling Bel Air Village.
Hefton said once development resumes along the corridor, he expects that developers may look to the site of the Circle K for redevelopment.
“What I can envision is that once the 75 project is completed ... and once Bel Air Village is announced and comes to life, I think value in property in that area particular will become more valuable than the buildings on it,” Hefton said. “When that happens, you will have developers come in, buy everything and scrape off everything and redevelop it into a larger development.
“Rather than have four concerns there ... I tend to think that real estate will become too valuable and there will be redevelopment on that northeast corner.”
Meanwhile, the southwest corner will likely remain as it is, Hefton said. The Shell station sits within the Blalock development, which has strong restrictions on what can be developed.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.