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November 13, 2012

New travel center planned in Good Hope

GOOD HOPE — The site of the long-closed Holiday Inn at Good Hope has sat dormant for years, but the property is about to get a lot busier.

Backers of a new travel center and restaurant complex applied to the city last week for a permit to develop the property after purchasing the 15-acre tract.

Once finished, the property will host a new Wilco-Hess travel center, a convenience store and fueling complex set to include both a Dunkin Donuts and a Wendy’s restaurant.

Good Hope’s planning commission will take up the permit application, filed by CDG Engineers of Andalusia, at its regular Nov. 19 meeting. Mayor Corey Harbison said the project will require a significant portion of the property, which fronts the northbound right of way alongside Interstate 65, be engineered to address storm water runoff and drainage issues.

The property, which is sandwiched on a sliver of land west of Ala. Highway 69 and east of I-65, will feature two entrances from Highway 69. Harbison said plans call for the city to develop a new road on the back side of the property to open access to future retail development on adjoining land.

“It’s going to have two entrances,” he said. “At the western entrance, we’re working with them for a right of way for a city road that will connect to some more property that has potential for commercial development. That property follows I-65 northbound, but doesn’t have an access on Highway 69. This would be a good time to do that road, because you have to start planning long-term for how one project is going eventually to flow into another.”

 The city council has approved an ordinance setting guidelines on the facade appearances of newly-built commercial structures in the city. Harbison said the facade ordinance isn’t as lengthy or comprehensive as the one passed last year by the city of Cullman, and is primarily intended to help ensure new development along the highly-visible I-65 and Highway 69 corridor remains consistent and attractive in appearance.

Barring the unforeseen, groundbreaking on the Wilco-Hess center is expected to begin within the next two months.

“They’re in the final stages of ALDOT [the Alabama Department of Transportation]

getting the entrances squared away, and hopefully they’ll break ground within the month to month and-a-half,” Harbison said.

“This is the second complex of its kind in the State of Alabama. It’s going to be a state-of-the-art design. That property had sat there for ten years. It’s been an eyesore for our community, and it’s not been producing any revenue. I fell that, with them coming in with this project, there’s an opportunity for us generate a lot more revenue. They’ve been great to work with so far, and I feel like it’s a project that’s going to be good for the community.”

* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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