By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS – Lampposts and cement curbs protrude from tan-yellow dirt where bulldozers are laboring on construction of Market Heights.

The shopping center development is moving forward with foundations for three buildings already laid, and paving will begin soon.

The construction of Market Heights, an 82-acre retail development in Harker Heights, is being handled by developer Direct Development and construction company EMJ Corp.

EMJ Corp. will start paving the Target parking lot, then pave the entire area starting this week or next week, said Michael Goss, Direct Development's vice president of construction services.

"So you will see this area go from gray to black," Goss said.

In the month of September, seven building permits totaling more than $16 million were approved by the city of Harker Heights for the center at the northeast corner of Farm-to-Market 2410 and U.S. Highway 190.

Since that date, the Cinemark theater complex's foundation has been laid, along with foundations for two other buildings, including a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

The opening of the Cinemark is on track for Memorial Day in 2008, Goss said.

"Their goal is to capture the Memorial Day weekend audience," he said.

Target will start work on its pad site on Oct. 19 and is on track to open in July 2008, Goss said.

Direct Development will oversee the construction of nine buildings that will go into the retail center, while another 11 buildings will be constructed by other builders.

About 20 nationally recognized chains are currently working with Direct Development to lease space in Market Heights, Goss said. At least another 25 businesses can move into other spaces.

"The key to this shopping center and others like the Wal-Mart ... is that they become points of destination," said Steve Carpenter, Harker Heights city manager.

Besides bringing shopping to Harker Heights residents, the project will generate revenue for the city, Carpenter said. The development will raise property values in Harker Heights and provide more sales tax income for the city.

Carpenter said the center is expected to generate $2 million to $4 million annually in sales tax revenue.

He said Harker Heights officials were not surprised when the Market Heights project was first proposed to the city.

"I think it is what we have been working toward long before we have had anyone asking," Carpenter said. "We have been putting the infrastructure in place to support these people."

Though the area has seen a significant amount of bad weather this year, the project is still on track because bad weather days were scheduled into the project, Gross said.

The days when construction has come to a standstill because of muddy terrain are almost over, Gross said. Once the area is paved, builders will just have to wait for the rain to stop before continuing to build.

Direct Development officials are hoping that Marker Heights will celebrate its grand opening in July or August 2008.

"We are excited to begin our product to this market," Gross said.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7554

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