Chris Leighton, a broker for Westwood Real Estate Development, said he envisions the project attracting more retail and restaurants to the corner of SH 26 and Ruth Wall Road.
“I don’t know how many towns of 50,000 people have a billion-dollar corridor, but Grapevine does and we happen to be at that intersection in a big way,” he said.
In addition to bringing more traffic to the north side of Grapevine, officials said the development should address another resident demand: having a place closer to home to buy groceries.
"They see the same need that we do, which is to get some fresh produce and some other kinds of things available for people,” said Bob Farley, Grapevine Economic Development director.
Once finished, the project will include small offices, retail and restaurants. The anchor will be the Texas Best Smokehouse travel center. There will be eight buildings total, in addition to a car wash as part of the travel center.
Developing office and retail
Grapevine Station North adds more than 11 acres to the original Grapevine Station development on the south side of SH 26.
More than 3 acres of Grapevine Station North have been set aside for the Texas Best Smokehouse travel center, where groceries will be sold. Another 7.5 acres will be used for single-story buildings for retail, medical office and restaurant uses.
No specific companies have been announced, as leases are still in progress, Leighton said. However, he said the site will be developed so that offices are in the back part of the property with retail stores closer to Northwest Highway.
Developers and city officials likened the Texas Best Smokehouse to a smaller version of Buc-ee’s, a popular Texas gas station. Like Buc-ee’s, the Texas Best Smokehouse will sell a variety of products, such as jerky, jarred products, snacks, Texas wines, home goods and clothing.
Construction on the store will cost an estimated $11 million, owner Nasser Safa said. The store is expected to generate $8 million in sales each year, he said.
“We are in the gas station business; however, we are in the upper scale, not the mediocre or the average gas station that you walk into,” Safa said.
Texas Best Smokehouse will have 14 fuel pumps. There will be up to 12 Tesla charging stations and a few general vehicle charging stations.
A tunnel car wash with vacuums and detailing services will be included in the development. Inside the store will be the Texas Best Smokehouse barbecue restaurant, a deli restaurant, a pizzeria, a coffee bar and a juice bar. Meat from the smokehouse restaurant can also be used as pizza toppings at the pizzeria.
“We cater to the community on an individual basis,” Safa said.
Area lacking density
The Texas Best Smokehouse is crucial to the Grapevine Station North project, as it is expected to help drive foot traffic to the area, Leighton said.
The north side of town has struggled in the past to keep retail and restaurant options open, Leighton said when the project went before Grapevine City Council in August 2018. That is because much of the surrounding land is being used by Grapevine Lake and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport instead of housing developments, he said.
With the lack of retail options, fewer people have reason to visit that side of town beyond the Starbucks and the Mesa Mexican restaurant there, city officials said at the meeting.
The south end of Grapevine Station was developed into several offices for this reason, officials said. However, the intention is to develop more retail spaces and restaurants at Grapevine Station North, Leighton said. Based on his experience with the south side, Leighton said he believes the Texas Best Smokehouse will help the area overcome its previous struggles.
This was something Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate recognized at the August 2018 council meeting.
“This will create a lot of traffic, yes, but that’s what we need: traffic. We need some energy, and that will help the retail there,” Tate said at the meeting. “They’ve struggled for years trying to get retail in there.”
Working with resident demand
The Texas Best Smokehouse project was approved after developers assured Grapevine City Council that groceries would be included.
Safa said he is dedicating about 1,200 square feet of the store to fresh produce, in addition to other grocery items. The fruits and vegetables will benefit not only the residents but also the store itself, he said, since the items can also be used by the restaurant.
“We understand that the demographics don’t support [produce], but we can throw it in, and we found a way to make it a win-win,” Safa said.
City Council’s request stemmed from inquiries to the city from residents about having a grocery store closer to their homes. The city had even reached out to Westwood to see if it could entice a full grocery store to set up shop in the area, but to no avail.
“There’s sort of a twofold challenge: You’ve got grocers that have built large stores that are within commutable distance of where that population is, ... and then, the north side challenge, historically, of not having as much raw residential development,” Farley said.
Some residents who live on the north side of the city expressed disappointment with the planned development for the site.
“A grocery store is much-needed,” Grapevine resident Rhonda Bishop said. “Kroger is so overwhelmed with both Grapevine and Southlake residents shopping there.”
“The last thing we need is another gas station/convenience store, even if it does sell a few healthy items,” Grapevine resident Susan Quinn said.
A few of the smaller grocers have begun to express interest in the area, Farley said. No one has stepped up with a proposal just yet, though, so the Texas Best Smokehouse can serve as a sort of placeholder, he said.
“This will be a transitional piece for that corridor until such time as that density is there,” Farley said.