By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Not long ago, Metroplex Hospital and Texas A&M University-Central Texas stood virtually alone on South Clear Creek Road, or State Highway 201.
Within the last two years, however, the intellectual pillars have attracted additional development, including a sprawling medical park that Killeen City Planner Tony McIlwain said could be the foundation for an eventual "white collar" corridor leading all the way to Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.
"I get jealous of cities that have a high-tech corridor," McIlwain said last week. "I would like to see Killeen have a medical or high-tech corridor and if that were to be (State Highway) 201, I would be thrilled to death to see that."
It's a reality that could grow more likely with the opening of the new TAMU-CT campus at the intersection of U.S. Highways 195 and 201 by early 2012, said Jonathan Packer, marketing director for the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce. The campus will encompass 662 acres and serve up to 15,000 students.
TAMU-CT's plan for an eventual technology park "where businesses can leverage the presence of the university and Fort Hood" is of particular interest to the chamber, Packer said last week.
The new campus, coupled with Metroplex's ongoing expansions and the broader implications of the current construction at the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, will make southwest Killeen "a vital component of Killeen's future growth," he said.
McIlwain said having a hotel near the airport could only help encourage such growth. No such facility has been permitted yet.
For now, much of the Clear Creek Road development is clustered around Metroplex, which opened the new 90,000-square-foot Hemingway medical office building in November. Across the street, the recently opened Clear Creek Medical Park is fully occupied by 10 additional health care service providers.
The park's owner and developer, Clear Creek Road Ltd., is also close to opening the adjacent Domain @ Clear Creek.
Already slated as tenants for the 74,000, mixed-use development are National Bank, Coffee Beanery, Chloe Nails, Army Store, Subway, Little Caesar's, Mango Cup Yogurt and a doughnut shop.
One 2,500-square-foot suite is still available. The development's main building could be open by late summer.
Construction of a child care facility and additional medical offices is also under way, Clear Creek Road Ltd. partner Wallace Vernon of Killeen said Friday.
The developments' proximity to Metroplex has easily attracted tenants, Vernon said.
McIlwain said white collar and commercial development can go hand in hand.
"We've had developers position themselves for commercial uses that complement the medical uses," he said, naming the child care facility that medical personnel may use for their own children as an example.
A 2,850-square-foot Taco Bell and a 42,114-square-foot Shell station also have been permitted for the Metroplex region of Clear Creek Road.
There's still room for additional commercial growth that targets the basic needs of residents of the growing southwest Killeen area, McIlwain said.
Dawn Sansonetti, who owns the Old Spinning Wheel Knitting Yarn Shop on U.S. Highway 195, said a grocery store would be particularly welcome.
"There are no grocery stores in the area," she said. "Our options are to buy milk, bread and eggs (at) dollar stores or gas stations or drive out to the Killeen Walmart (or) H-E-B. We are not a huge city, but the southwest area of Killeen has what is known as a 'food desert.'"
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.