By Don Bolding

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – Another acre and a half of land fronting Farm-to-Market 2410 had earth-moving equipment all over it this week, and commercial real estate broker John Reider, who has much of the land in the area up for sale, said he expects to see the stretch of highway between Harker Heights High School and U.S. Highway 190 completely developed within three years.

The new development between Kwik Kar Lube & Tune and the new Taqueria Mexico No. 3 will be called Knight's Way Crossing, a partnership between Jeff Orlando, who owns the Schlotzsky's Deli at U.S. Highway 190 and Fort Hood Street, Brad Martin, who has the Precision Lube & Tune on 2410, and Larry Guess of Salado, who is also the builder for the new center. Orlando said construction of the shell should be completed in May, weather permitting.

The 17,000-square-foot building will be 240 feet wide and 71 feet deep. No tenants are signed yet, and no interior walls will be built until tenants have made commitments and said how much space they need.

Knight's Way, the namesake of the development, is the city's name for 2410 in honor of the high school sports teams.

Orlando said the partners have no particular kinds of tenants in mind, "but we hope to get some who are open during the evening so that the building is busy and lighted all the time."

Orlando and Martin came to Killeen to start stores for their present companies, Orlando in 1999 and Martin in 1987. The current venture is the first for both as landlords.

Farther east, the exterior is finished on a new 9,100-square-foot building at Greg and Lisa Parker's Heritage Park on Mountain Lion Circle. Danya Reider of John Reider Properties, overseeing the construction, said interior work is ongoing, and placing of interior walls awaits commitment by tenants there, also. The building has long been planned as the third phase of a project that began with construction of Heritage Park Fitness and continued with spaces now occupied by businesses including Texas Tan, The Wellness Center and Sun Cleaners.

She said the building is planned for retail or professional offices with a maximum of seven spaces.

John Reider said, "Much of the land from 190 to the high school has been platted now, meaning the infrastructure is complete, and that's what developers want to see. The city is working on it steadily, and I think it will be finished and built up in about 24 to 36 months with high-end rentals."

The most expensive commercial land in town is in and around the soon-to-open Market Heights. Rents are a little lower around Wal-Mart and Walgreens and lower still farther to the east.

"I think we'll see more service businesses like cleaners and hair care along with retail stores and fast-food places," he said. "There are more and more restaurants there now, but the density of those businesses, and hotels, feeds off itself. Prospective owners will look around and say, 'Now what don't we have here?' and put in pizza, chicken or whatever's missing. There's a lot of opportunity along that 2410 pipeline because of increasing residential development to the south."

He said he feels plenty of attention is being given to public services including parks and green spaces. "They're building a library even as we speak, and two or three parks are planned along there. We meet periodically to determine where they'll need schools to make sure facilities don't get overcrowded."

He said land sales in the area started the year slow but have picked up.

The land from the high school to Highway 190 is all zoned for various types of commercial use, but the zoning is all shallow, so big busineses are unlikely to appear. City Manager Steve Carpenter has said the most of the businesses will probably focus on convenience of location and pointed out that the city has enacted strict ordinances about landscaping and facades to preserve the attractiveness of the area, strengthening neighborhoods and preserving property values.

Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce president Bill Kozlik said he believes some prospective business owners want to see what finally appears at Market Heights to come in with specialty shops that complement it, avoiding duplication. "By specialty shops, I don't mean mom-and-pop stores, but themed retail and eateries like bagel shops. I think we'll see more dentists and other healthcare professionals."

He said any developing area will always have deals in the works that have to stay under wraps because premature exposure could ruin chances.

But Heights, like the rest of western Bell County, will probably remain one-story for a long time, if it ever changes. Reider said, "You only see high-rises or multi-story buildings when land prices become so prohibitive that businesses are forced off the ground. There are a few exceptions to the rule, like the Extraco building on 190, but people won't have to build upward of necessity for a long time."

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