Contractor sees growth in area

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two Alabama construction company leaders working in Lewisburg this month report economic conditions have improved for them.

"We've got a lot of work going on; more than we've had in the last three years," said Robert Brown, a project manager for Hollis Concrete and Co., of Pell City, Ala.

Hollis Concrete and Co. has the contract to install fuel tanks and build a retail gas station for the Kroger grocery on South Ellington Parkway. Both were asked if they think the economy is recovering.

"In our industry, yes; in this kind of construction," Hollis Concrete and Co. owner and operator Terry Hollis said as a tractor trailer truck had arrived with another 20,000 fuel tank to be buried where Kroger's parking lot has lost 20 parking spaces near where more land is being used.

"Other areas?" Hollis said rhetorically about economic growth in different parts of the construction business; "not so much."

The new fuel station could be open in about 18 weeks.

"Everybody I've been talking to, like engineers, planners and such; they are seeing a lot of growth," Hollis said.

Meanwhile, Marshall County hasn't seen such an increase in construction, a county official close to permitting said on Thursday.

Hollis was asked where else he's seen growth.

"Pick a state," he replied, listing, "West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. We've done a bunch of these in Tennessee... I've been told ... it will be in Florida next year."

A station Hollis built in Franklin opened Sept. 30, he said before being asked about Nissan and General Motors' plans to sell electric and hybrid cars.

"You hear so much about electric... Somebody knows a whole lot more than I do for them to put so many new gas stations in," Hollis said.

But increased use of hybrid and new electric vehicles will probably be in big cities where air pollution is an issue, he said.

"But for people out here in the country and like me," Hollis said, "we can't afford electric."

Environmental considerations had to be addressed for construction of the fuel center near the grocery at 301 S. Ellington Parkway.

A surveyor had to determine exactly where Capps Branch's floodway is located so it wouldn't be disturbed and environmental regulations were not broken, Marshall County Building Inspector Don Nelson said.

Perry Engineering of Goodlettsville conducted a traffic study on a Wednesday when Kroger was conducting its Senior Appreciation Day, typically a high traffic time, engineer Jay Fulmer of Perry Engineering said in a letter to Lewisburg Codes Officer Greg Lowe.

During the study period, as many as 93 parking spaces were being used when the lot had all its original 176 spaces, Fulmer said in his July 9 letter to Lowe. That's a "utilization rate of 53 percent."

Lewisburg's Board of Zoning Appeals granted Fulmer's request for Kroger to have a variance from strict enforcement of parking requirements.

Marshall County's Building Codes Department issued a construction permit for the fuel center on Tuesday.

As Hollis Concrete was receiving the second of two tanks for the fuel stations, Judy Edwards, of Lewisburg, was one of several shoppers asking what was being built.

"We've been waiting for this," Edwards said of the fuel center. "It's competition. We travel a lot and see them at other places."