Buc-ee’s, the popular Texas-based gas station, convenience store and travel center, is eyeing a new location in Auburn at Exit 50 off of I-85.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 18, the Auburn City Council is set to consider a development agreement between the city and Buc-ee’s Auburn, LLC, which was formed in Alabama in late April, according to a legal notice that ran in the Opelika-Auburn News on Monday, May 10, and Alabama Secretary of State business entity records.
The project, which would be roughly located on the northeast corner of Cox Road at Exit 50 off of I-85, corresponds with another project recommended for conditional-use approval by the Planning Commission at its April meeting, allowing for a large 55,000 square-foot gas station with about 116 fuel pumps and more than 470 parking spaces, according to meeting materials.
Jeff Nadalo, general counsel for Buc-ee’s confirmed on Tuesday, May 11, that the company is indeed looking to build a location at I-85 and Cox Road.
"We're actively working hard to secure a spot to build a store in Auburn," Nadalo said in a phone interview with the Villager. "We believe that the location is ideal for customers traveling in the area and with a diverse workforce in Auburn we'll have great access to employees to serve the customers."
The project would require a new public road off Cox Road that runs to the north of the development and terminates into a cul-de-sac/entrance, as well as a right-in, right-out entrance off of Cox Road that feeds directly into the development.
The development and road service use meets the future land designation in CompPlan 2030 of Interstate Commercial, according city staff comment in Commission meeting materials.
Nadalo said the company is working with local and state officials to secure "all of the necessary approvals and agreements necessary for us to be able to proceed."
"We're still in the middle of due diligence," Nadalo said.
Before a development agreement between the city and Buc-ee’s can be reached, the Council will have to clear a path by approving a number of other items related to the project on the agenda, including two items that would annex the unincorporated Lee County properties into city limits, and then two items that would then rezone those same parcels from Rural to Comprehensive Development District.
Those items are being brought by the property owners and Gonzalez Strength & Associates on the owners’ behalf. The Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of all four agenda items.
Under the proposed development agreement, “the City will agree to make payments to the Company, payable solely from approximately one-half of all non-educational City-levied sales and use tax revenues, and from one-half of the City-levied motor fuel tax revenues, collected by the City and generated from the Project over a period of twenty-five (25) years,” according to the legal notice.
The city would expect public benefits from the agreement, including “substantial sales use, ad valorem and other tax revenues" and the creation of jobs.
Should all the approvals go through, Buc-ee’s would like to begin construction toward the end of the year. It would take approximately a year to complete construction, Nadalo said.
If a Buc-ee’s comes to Auburn, it would be the company’s third location in the state, with the other two in Leeds and Robertsdale.
Those who have never been to a Buc-ee’s should know it isn't a typical gas station/convenience store.
"We have gourmet food from quite literally top chefs -- the world champion of barbecue is one of our chefs," Nadalo said. "Another one of our chef's, he was the former culinary director at the Houstonian, which is a very famous restaurant here in Houston."
"We also have some pretty unique offerings in terms of other items that you really won't find anywhere else," Nadalo said.
The Auburn City Council will meet on Tuesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. in the new Council Chambers on North Ross Street.
Associate editor Madasyn Lee contributed to this report.