Rick Shuffield, vice president of real estate and development for the Love’s Corporation, outlined plans for a center to be built at 6151 Shortman Road, which abuts the interstate at the exit. Presenting with Shuffield were Genevieve Trigg of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna Law Offices, and Sara Harville, project manager for CESO Inc., which is engineering the project.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to become part of Ripley,” Shuffield said. “You have a true diamond here and people hit it before coming to any toll roads.”
Shuffield said the corporation was attracted to the Ripley site because it is the first stop coming into the state before travelers reach the toll road. Also, the town has actively developed utilities in the area.
“You were really proactive on the utility situation,” he said. “That’s what helped me get on board pretty quick.”
Shuffield told board members that the company has already secured about 16 acres but will not close on the property until all permits and variances are in place.
The center will provide many services, including an expanded convenience store with an area for truckers, a gift shop, large bathrooms, showers for truckers, fresh food, including fresh cut fruit, salads and sandwiches, a fast food establishment, weigh scales, fuel services, including gasoline, propane and diesel, and a tire care center for truckers.
Shuffield stressed that the Love’s Corporation strives to provide separate areas for automobile traffic. “One of the things that differentiates us from other stops is we put a lot of emphasis on cars,” he said.
Board members were told that the center will probably employ 40 to 50 people.
“We expect them all to come from the area,” he said.
“We’re hoping the general manager will be from the area, as well. Management hiring will take place three to four months before we open.”
Regarding the timeline for construction, Shuffield estimated that all of the entitlements for the project will be completed throughout the coming year. He said he hopes to bid the project in January of 2021 in order to begin construction in the spring.
“As a rule of thumb, I would say to use seven months as the period of actual construction,” he said.
Shuffield said most of the construction would be through local contractors.
Ripley Supervisor Doug Bowen said the only action the board would take at the meeting would be to initiate the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process and designate the lead agency for the project.
“Any variances or permits, we’ll try to do things as timely as we possibly can,” Bowen said.
Other members of the planning board voiced support for the proposed project. Code Officer Melanie Eddy said she visited Love’s travel stop in Ohio. “I made the trip to Ashtabula and I was pleasantly surprised. I was so impressed with how many vehicles were coming and going,” she said. “Everyone greeted me and the manager was so nice.”
The Love’s Corporation owns more than 500 travel stops in 42 states, Shuffield said. However they are just expanding into the northeast.
The corporation, which began in 1964, owns all of its 500 travel stops, which are located in 42 states. Sheffield said Love’s does not have a lot of exposure in the northeastern United States because some of the interchanges are substandard and available locations are difficult to obtain.