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Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, which currently operates this travel plaza on Route 178 in Utica, is building a 16-acre site on Oglesby’s west side and the plaza will include a Hardee’s. The Oglesby Plan Commission voted unanimously Thursday to recommend the city council approve the project. Oklahoma City-based Love’s is expected to begin construction near Interstate 39 in late spring, with opening targeted for Thanksgiving.
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores thinks their proposed truck stop in Oglesby could create 60 jobs, generate $3 million in yearly sales and $200,000 in sales taxes. That was enough to get a unanimous recommendation Thursday from the Oglesby Plan Commission. With Jim Clinard abstaining — he works for Chamlin & Associates, which has Love’s engineering contract — the commission voted 6-0 to send the recommendation on to the city council, which meets Monday. If the council approves the plans for the 16-acre site just west of Interstate 39 and south of Advantage Logistics, it should clear the way for Oklahoma City-based Love’s to break ground in spring and open the $9 to $10 million plaza by Thanksgiving. “We hope to build the store this year,” said Frank Ille, Love’s manager of development. “To build this year we’ll have to start in mid-May, June 1st at the latest.” Commission chairman Ken Ficek opened the 35-minute hearing by noting the truck stop “fits very nicely” into Oglesby’s comprehensive plan, which called for west-side development and specifically for a travel center or fuel station. From there, commissioners quickly determined the site poses no special problems with respect to traffic safety or noise (the nearest home is a half mile to the south) and seemed to like additional details of the project, including a Hardee’s restaurant to be included in the project. Ille said he’d actually scouted the Oglesby site nearly a decade ago, but Love’s executives needed a bit of persuasion before pulling the trigger. The project sits adjacent to Interstate 39, which has substantially lower traffic counts than on I-80 where Love’s has an existing facility on Route 178 in Utica. Love’s eventually approved the Oglesby site because of nearby Advantage Logistics and the arrival of a traffic signal and water-sewer service. Plus, Ille said, “Illinois has been a great state to develop in (and) we have no stores on I-39.” The Oglesby Love’s is projected to generate about the same amount of revenue as the Utica Love’s, though the Oglesby site will be larger by 6 acres, include a 6,500-square-foot tire repair center and hold 90-100 parking spaces for trucks compared with 55 in Utica. Ille also said Love’s is open to using local construction workers. The 60 new jobs would include five salaried, full-time management positions that also would filled locally. One exception: The position of general manager; assistant managers at other Love’s sites would be given first crack at that post. “We’re looking forward to a very good relationship,” Ficek said.