Crews have started clearing trees and pushing dirt for a new Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store location going up on nearly 17 acres of land at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 280 and Summerville Road in Smiths Station, just north of Phenix City.
Oklahoma City-based Love’s, which committed to the Alabama city last summer, will soon begin vertical construction on its 8,600-square-foot country store, with an expected opening this fall.
The business is expected to include a Godfather’s Pizza restaurant and a 24-hour Chester’s chicken eatery for motorists and over-the-road truckers stopping there, as well as area residents needing to top off their tummies with a meal. Both of those large chains have no current presence in the area.
“There will be 51 truck parking spaces and an RV dump planned for this site. We look forward to becoming part of the Smiths Station area and serving customers in a new part of the state,” the company said.
Love’s also is expected to have a solid economic impact on the city, employing about 40 people full-time and pumping sales tax revenue of more than $3 million into the community’s coffers.
The icing on the project’s cake will be the $3 million in road improvements at the intersection of Summerville Road and U.S. Hwy. 280. That is to include the widening of some portions of the intersection and longer acceleration and deceleration lanes, which will be needed for additional traffic at the site, to include a steady flow of large tractor-trailer rigs.
Love’s also is footing the cost of running a sewage line to their site, which should help spur further commercial development in and around the area, Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland has said of the new business.
“By having the first company to invest and bring the huge gas main and the huge sewage and the huge water main to the site, that will be the fuse that lights economic growth in that area,” Copeland said.
Smiths Station, which gets its name from the railroad track that has long run through it, was incorporated in 2001 and has a population within its city limits of just under 5,400 people, according to a 2016 U.S. Census estimate. However, a broader area was designated a “census-designated place” in 2000, with a population of nearly 22,000.
Founded in 1964 in Watonga, Okla., privately owned Love’s has grown through the years to 460 retail locations in 41 states. It has 22,000 employees on its payroll.