By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – Businesses opening along Farm-to-Market 2410 south of U.S. Highway 190 have become a common occurrence and city officials say the remaining vacant land along the roadway is poised for development.
Last year saw the addition of a Walgreens, bringing with it fast food restaurants Taco Bueno, Subway and a nearby Whataburger. A recently completed retail area, a Kwik Car auto service center and a yet-to-open Starbucks have also helped fill out the busy intersection. The Wal-Mart Supercenter, which opened in the spring of 2005, prompted the sudden developments near the highway intersection.
And in the next few years, even more businesses may call the parcels of land along the five-lane roadway through Harker Heights home.
"When you are going down to the high school it is all zoned commercial," said Steve Carpenter, Harker Heights city manager.
The zoning along FM 2410 is sightly different in certain areas, thus allowing for various types of businesses in different locations.
The area on the southwest corner of FM 2410 and Stillhouse Lake Road is currently zoned a B-5, General Business District. The area could have anything from a company's storage facility to drive-in theater to doctor's office. It is one of two B-5 zoned lots along FM 2410.
Other portions along FM 2410 have been zoned B-4, Secondary And Highway Business District, and B-3, Local Business District. Florists, dance halls, car garages and much more fit under the B-4 type of zoning. B-3 accommodates restaurants, laundromats and car washes, among other types of businesses.
"You have all kinds of uses there, but it is not very deep, so it is going to be conducive to the smaller businesses," Carpenter said.
The smaller business, such as specialty shops, restaurants and mom-and-pop stores, are going to be the businesses that are successful in the area, said Bill Kozlik, Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce president.
"The more unique type of business you put in there, the better off you will be," Kozlik said.
The people that will be using the businesses on FM 2410 are going to be residents that do not want to make the drive to Killeen or other Central Texas cities for their goods and services, Carpenter said.
"A lot of the things that will be on 2410 are going to be places people are going to go because they are close," he said.
The city has also set a number ordinances about the landscaping and facade of what businesses can look like in the area to keep the buildings attractive for the community, he said.
"I am hoping as we develop it, it will be with attractive buildings," Carpenter said.
There are a number of reasons for ordinances that require the business exteriors to be more attractive, Carpenter said. One is providing for the longevity of the building.
"If you have a higher quality of residential and commercial buildings, they will have a higher chance of maintaining themselves," Carpenter said.
Kozlik said it also helps control what type of businesses come into the area and attracts other businesses and consumers to those businesses.
"It (the ordinances) attracts more businesses and people, because everyone is going to be more uniform," Kozlik said. "It can do nothing but add. It is nothing but a plus for the city and the businesses. It is a good control."
More attractive businesses in the area also helps to strengthen neighborhoods and can increase property value.
"All the people know that the outer perimeters there are all retail, but they are all looking for good businesses going in, because they are looking at their neighborhood at getting better too," Kozlik said.
According to both the chamber and the city, the businesses development along FM 2410 is something residents are anxious to see.
City-sponsored studies, like the resident-run forum Exploring New Heights, reinforced the idea that Harker Heights residents do not want simply a volume of businesses but good quality businesses and buildings.
"What citizens would like to see, according to those type of documents, is they want things that fit into their neighborhood," Carpenter said. "They want the business, but they want it to improve the quality of life."
And while the large retail development Market Heights across U.S. Highway 190 will be completed later this year, business owners along FM 2410 should not fear the center as competition, Carpenter said.
"Market Heights is going to pull shoppers here and will help some of the restaurants and other businesses," he said.
Shoppers will come from other cities to visit Market Heights, and they are going to look for other things to do in the city, Kozlik said.
"When you get Market Heights, you are going to have the 50 something stores in there, so you are going to draw a different type of people," Kozlik said. "Market Heights is going to open a whole new door for people."
For decades the city council and the people of Harker Heights have been trying to improve the quality of the city by looking to the future, Carpenter said.
"That is probably the thing that I am most proud of – that the council and the citizens are just solid forward thinkers," he said. "There have been people on this council for the last 20 years, that aren't afraid to plan."
Their forward thinking allows for attractive developments and businesses that residents can use, Carpenter said.
"Our goal is to be the best city in the area."
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7554