By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
Abilene’s second Lowe’s will be built in November east of the Holiday Inn Express off Interstate 20, said Kenneth Musgrave, Abilene land owner and developer.
The home improvement store joins the recently developed area on the north side of town where a Super Wal-Mart, Chili’s and Cracker Barrel were built in the past year.
Musgrave estimated that construction of the 116,000 square-foot development could be completed by March, and it will look different than the Lowe’s on the south side of town.
“This Lowe’s will have some masonry accents which will make it look much better, I think,” Musgrave said. “It’s the latest style of the store that they are building now.”
He said he has been working with people from Lowe’s for the past year trying to get the business to build in Abilene again.
He said he thought Lowe’s would bring as much, if not more business to the area along I-20 than the Super Wal-Mart did when it was complete last spring.
“You know how much activity happened on Highway 351 when the Super Wal-Mart went in,” he said. “When Lowe’s gets in there, it will do as much for the area if not more to bring people in.”
Musgrave said new access roads and ramps were being built off I-20 to make access easier to get to the new businesses. He said the Super Wal-Mart is hard to get to because of how the roads are set up, causing traffic to back up Highway 351.
“It’s just going to be much more convenient to get to,” he said.
He said Lowe’s will be a key building for future development along I-20.
“I’m working on a billion projects to develop in this area, but it will take many, many years for it all to be developed,” he said. Musgrave owns 2,400 acres along I-20 and Highway 351 and said he is working on just developing 264 acres right now. The rest of his land has already been “master planned” within city limits for how it could be developed in the future, he said.
As for the economy of Abilene, the new business will boost the city’s property taxes and bring in additional sales tax, said Richard Burdine, chief executive officer of Development Corporation of Abilene, Inc.
“In addition to generating new property taxes and jobs, the businesses collect sales taxes which help to fund city services and economic development programs,” Burdine said in an e-mail.
Musgrave said Lowe’s will generate $15 million in taxes alone to the city after paying for the land, building and all merchandise.
Besides taxes, though, Lowe’s won’t benefit the city much more unless it entices people from outside of Abilene to shop there, Burdine said.
Neither Musgrave nor Burdine said they yet knew how many jobs Lowe’s would bring to Abilene.
Lowe’s, which has been in business for 60 years, is ranked No. 42 on the Fortune 500 list according to its Web site, and operates in more than 1,275 stores in 49 states.