A chain of travel centers that dot interstate highways throughout the country is building two locations in the metro-east.
Love's Travel Stops has started construction in Hamel and will soon break ground on another in New Baden. The Oklahoma City-based company, named for founders Tom and Judy Love, has grown from its first location in Oklahoma to 310 in 39 states that house a gas station, truck stop and repair center, convenience store and restaurants under one roof.
Company media specialist Kealey Dorian said both of the metro-east locales are expected to open to highway drivers later this year. She said the one under construction in Hamel will have both a McDonald's and a Subway restaurant, and the New Baden location will house a Hardee's.
"We want to go into areas that will serve us and serve customers in communities that are best for these two communities," Dorian said. "We think we have a really good mix of professional- driving traffic the community can support."
New Baden Village Administrator Jimmy Morani said Love's initially contacted the village about two years ago. The company obtained approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation last November and in March, they closed on the a 29.5-acre site at southwest corner of Interstate 64 and Illinois 161 to build a 11,000-square-foot travel center.
Morani said the $8 million development includes road improvements at the interchange and the adjacent Richter School Road. This will extend water, sewer service and utilities into the west side of town.
"We were not really able to do that unless we have a developer of this size, and the developer is able to work with the village to provide the financial resources up front so we could do this project," Morani said.
The project is within a tax increment financing district. According to the terms of the development, the non-home rule sales tax rate will increase from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent in January 2015. Morani said this revenue is dedicated for public infrastructure, and all tax increment financing reimbursements to Love's are for water and sewer utility costs. They are not being reimbursed for any on-site work or for road improvements.
The tax increment finance district was established in 2010. The village has an agreement with Mascoutah School District to share revenues. Morani said the travel center is estimated to add $30,000 in non-home rule sales tax and is expected to generate $60,000 in revenue.
This year is the 50th anniversary for Love's. Dorian said this year has also been a very good one for the company.
"We are actually experiencing a landmark year in terms of development and growth," Dorian said. "We are expecting to add 30 stores to our network. We have averaged between 15 and 20, so we are almost doubling that. With that said, we are fortunate to be having a positive experience."
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 618-239-2526.