Van breaks ground on new travel plaza

City and company officials pose with shovels for a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday for a new Love's Travel Stop complex near the Van exit on Interstate 20. The new plaza, an expansion of the existing Love's location across the road, will feature additional fuel pumps, a larger store area and a 74-room Marriott hotel to serve travelers, said Leanne Sellers from the Van Area Chamber of Commerce. Andrew D. Brosig/Tyler Morning Telegraph

If the old saying is true, it's all about location, location, location.

And, for a travel plaza, the best location is along a major highway. In Van, that means Interstate 20, and that's where the Love's Travel Plaza has been a central attraction to the small Van Zandt County town since 1999.

On Monday, a group of civic and company leaders gathered to ceremonially break ground as the travel plaza moves foward with plans to grow.

"Love's is trying to continue what we've done, which is Highway Hospitality," said Roy Horton, general manager of the current facility on the east side of Highway 314 adjacent to I-20. "We want to make it a one-stop for everything."

The new travel plaza will be home to three restaurants - a Godfather's Pizza, a Chester's Chicken and an Arby's - said LeAnn Sellers, publicity officer for the Van Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. But the centerpiece of the property will be a 74-room Marriott Hotel, a significant addition for the community of about 2,600 people.

With a rough estimate of hundreds of thousands of visitors to the current travel plaza annually, customer volume drove the decision to expand, Horton said. The proximity of the Tyler Rose Horse Park on Highway 110 south of Van and its thousands of visitors a year was another consideration in the growth plans, Ms. Sellers said.

The current plaza has a tire shop, five diesel pumps and 12 gasoline pumps, as well as a Carl's Jr. eatery, all of which will stay, Horton said.

The new plaza across the road will have an additional eight diesel pumps and 16 new gasoline pumps, along with the three restaurants and larger shopping area. The hotel will have conference rooms, a business center, pool and lounge. 

The current, 4,500-square-foot facility employs about 50 people. When the 7,500-square-foot plaza opens across the highway, Van also will see the addition of 100 or more jobs, Horton said. 

"And we might be conservative on that," Van Mayor Dean Stone said. "But I'd rather estimate conservative on something like that."

"Love's (Travel Plaza), in general, has been a real blessing for us," Stone said. "With the additional traffic, it will be a tremendous asset to our small town."

Twitter: @TMT_Andrew

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