Denison travel center set to break ground

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
An early artist rendering shows plans for a new travel center, which will break ground along the intersection of State Highway 91 and U.S. Highway 75 in Denison next week.

Crews with Victron Energy, a Waxahachie-based fuel distributor, have cleared the road for construction of a new travel center and fueling station to begin next week. Officials with the city of Denison announced a groundbreaking ceremony for the long-awaited project will be held on Wednesday, formally beginning the construction phase of the development.

 The travel center, located at the intersection of State Highway 91 and U.S. Highway 75, has been an anticipated project for the city of Denison, who formally announced the project in early 2020. However, groundwork on the project dates back into mid 2019 as city officials updated city ordinance definitions to define this kind of development.

"This is a ceremonial groundbreaking, but they are supposed to be moving dirt and starting construction that day," Denison Development Alliance Vice President William Myers said.

Early plans for the project featured more than 10 fueling stations, with specialized stations for large trucks. The interior of the station will feature retail along with multiple dining options.

The travel station will also feature the return of a restaurant to the Sherman-Denison market. Fuzzy's Taco Shop will have a location in the station, marking its first return since leaving its Sherman location some time around 2014. Fuzzy's will be joined by Texas Best Smokehouse, who will open their first Denison location at the station.

Myers said developers have been assisted through a series of incentives valued at about $200,000. The first incentive came in the form of a $60,000 sewer line extension, which connected the site to a pipeline near the high school. A second incentive will offer about $140,000 in property tax rebates over the course of 10 years.

In total, Myers said the project is expected to spur about $7.5 million in private investment.

The project's nature required city staff to update city ordinance to reflect this type of development. City officials said the travel center really didn't meet the definitions of other developments, specifically a gas station or truck stop, that were already defined in city code.

"The way way we defined it in our ordinance is that a travel center is a highway-oriented facility and provides services to the highway-traveling public," Denison Senior Planner Bill Medina said. "This will be different than your truck stops. A truck stop typically have showers, sleeping quarters, many many truck spaces.

"The market has shifted and the public is not really wanting to spend a lot of time at truck stops, but instead want to visit travel centers."

Likewise, the travel center is larger in scope than most convenience stores and gas stations, he added.

"It isn't like you go in and grab a bottled water and a hot dog. It really is a little wider scope, a wider scope," he said.

Medina said he hopes that these changes will allow similar developments come to Denison in the future. 

"Hopefully, this isn't the last one. Hopefully, there are more heading our way," he said.