Developments in Abilene, Texas
Within the last few years[clarification needed], Abilene, Texas has steadily become the retail, residential, business, medical, and overall center of the surrounding Big Country. Pioneeeing the path for the Medical Supply industry since the early 1070s Jim Bell, Founder of Bell Medical Inc. In 1983 son Mark Bell took the industry to a whole new deminsion not only bringing state of art medical equipment to local Physcians Hospitals and most other industries. Mark was known well as the go-to person in the Big Country as well as most of West Texas making it possible for rual Hospitals to have access to much needed critical care equipment by cultivating joint venture relationships throughout West Texas. The road was paved and room was made for plenty. After losing his father in his battle with cancer in 1987 Mark Bell along with other family continued leading the company to great success. Mark Left the business in 1994 to his Mother June Bell and brother Jimmy Bell to pursue other interest. Several developments in the area have set the pace for Abilene's success a center of activity and continue to set the pace for future growth in the city. Commercial development was especially boosted in 2007, with several multimillion dollar projects throughout the entire city. Most of the recent development is concentrated in roughly four areas in Abilene: Southwest Drive, Catclaw Drive, and Buffalo Gap Road near the Winters Freeway to the southwest, as this area becomes a strong commercial sector as well as a good residential district; Buffalo Gap Road, Beltway South, and US Highway 83/84 near and beyond the outskirts of the city in the south with several housing developments; Loop 322 area and Oldham Ln to the southeast, also near and past the edge of the city with a mix of several residential subdivisions as well as the start of commercial growth; and State Highway 351/Ambler Avenue near Interstate 20 to the northeast, also a combination of staple retail development, similar to the southwest commercial development, and the beginnings of residential growth with a new apartment complex and growing subdivisions. All this growth has contributed to the suburbanization of the city; however, as Abilene is not a large city itself, this is also helped the urbanization of the city as a whole. More people in the city leads to more workers and commuters in a city that has a short commute time throughout the city.
Much of Abilene's commercial and retail growth is concentrated in two opposite areas of the city. In the southwest area of the city, along and near Southwest Drive, Ridgemont Drive, and Buffalo Gap Road, several new retailers and businesses have brought new names to Abilene as this area continues to attract many to new shops, hotels, and restaurants. In addition, even some new residential projects have sprouted throughout the southwest side of the city, many of which are within blocks of Rebecca Lane.
Construction on several arterial and connective streets is indicative of the area's strong commercial growth. Southwest Drive was widened from 2 lanes each direction (plus central left-turn lane) to 3 lanes each direction, totaling 7 lanes from Catclaw Drive to S. Clack Street and 6 lanes under the Winters Freeway. This project was completed in late 2008. Also, Catclaw Drive was reconstructed and reconfigured to create 2 northbound lanes, 1 southbound lane, and 1 shared left-turn lane. The frontage roads of the Winters Freeway, S. Clack Street and S. Danville Drive, were reconstructed from S. 14th St to the US 83/84 & Loop 322 interchange, with restriping and minor widening done between Southwest Drive and Buffalo Gap Road from 2 lanes each to 3 lanes each.
Southwest Drive and Catclaw Drive have become the source of multiple new businesses, many of which are national chains with their first Abilene location. Two new shopping centers have been created in the area since 2005, Shops at Abilene and Abilene Marketplace, though the latter currently only has one tenant. Also, Buffalo Gap Road and Ridgemont Drive have been a constant area for retail and business and still continues to develop. Here the Mall of Abilene has been a strong spur for commerce since the 1980s, after it was constructed in 1979. Contained is a list of several new businesses brought to this commercial district since the turn of the century.
- Shops at Abilene - Shopping center built in 2005 at the southeast corner of Southwest Drive and Catclaw Drive, where tenants include Bed Bath & Beyond, Michael's, Ross, PetSmart, Payless ShoeSource, James Avery, Old Navy, and several more chain, and even local, stores and restaurants
- Abilene Marketplace - Currently only includes Kohl's, the only department store in the city outside of the Mall of Abilene, but has plenty of room for more construction for future tenants
- Ashley's Furniture Homestore
- Lithia Toyota of Abilene - Relocated car dealership
- New stores at the Park Central, Plaza at Park Central, and Catclaw Corner shopping centers
- MCM Elegante Suites - Near Mall of Abilene on Ridgemont Drive. Full Service Hotel
- Courtyard by Marriott - Near the Mall of Abilene on Ridgemont Drive
- Hilton Garden Inn - Near the Mall of Abilene on Ridgemont Drive
- Sleep Inn - On S Danville Drive just south of Southwest Drive
The following four hotels are all located on a short stretch of Catclaw Drive north of Southwest Drive.
- Holiday Inn Express - Limited-service hotel
- Wingate Inn & Suites - Limited-service hotel
- La Quinta Inn & Suites - 72-room limited-service hotel
- Candlewood Suites - 72-room extended-stay hotel
- Red Robin - Located on Catclaw Drive at the front of Shops at Abilene
- Cold Stone Creamery - Within Shops at Abilene
- Rosa's Café & Tortilla Factory
- Logan's Roadhouse
- Jason's Deli - Fairly new addition to Catclaw Corner, across from Shops at Abilene
- Buffet City - In Park Central at Southwest Drive and S. Clack Street
- Smoothie King - Also located in Shops at Abilene, in the same building as James Avery
- The Reserve at Abilene - New apartments being constructed close to the commercial area, located in a larger apartment region
- Hampton Hills - Fairly new subdivision with access by Rebecca Lane, close to Dyess AFB
- Sandy Creek addition - Small court also close to Dyess AFB, will probably expand in the future
- Butterfield Meadows - A planned mixed-use development zoned for a mix of office, retail, and detached and multifamily housing
- Garden Grove - Small development of compact houses along Garden Grove Lane
- Silver Oaks - off Buffalo Gap Road, just south of Woodlake Drive
- Greystone Estates - New subdivision at south end of Catclaw Drive currently with few houses
- Waterside - Though slightly off Buffalo Gap Road, this upscale gated community is still being developed and offers a secluded neighborhood
- The Villages at Wyndham - Adjacent to Waterside, this new subdivision contains a greenbelt area and easy access to key medical and shopping areas
Along the edge of the city and beyond city limits, several new subdivisions have come to fruition in only the last few years. South of Antilley Road, these subdivisions mainly use two routes to enter the city, Buffalo Gap Road and US Highway 83/84, where many of these places are located. This surge of residential growth is evidence of both recent outward growth in the city and the desire for open spaces often exhibited by urbanites as well as suburbanites.
Buffalo Gap Road
- Southern Meadows (Rio Mesa) - Created by the extension of a small existing road, nearly up to capacity
- Indian Trails - Located off Antilley Road, currently has very few houses
- Bella Vista Estates - A wealthier subdivision located southeast of Beltway South and Buffalo Gap Road
- Tuscany Trails - off Beltway South, roughly midway between Buffalo Gap Road and US 83/84
US Highway 83/84
- Skyline Estates - Small subdivision off Beltway South near the US 83/84 overpass
- Saddle Creek Estates - Also a wealthier subdivision that has expanded since its inception in the mid-1990s
- Lakes at Saddle Creek - Expanded continuously since 1999, reached capacity in 2008
The following subdivisions are located outside of the city limits.
- Mountain Shadows Ranch - Another wealthier subdivision, created in 2006, which still has very few houses
- Remington Estates - Average-class community located at Clark Road and US 83/84, nearly at full capacity
- Deer Valley Estates - off US 83/84 just south of Bell Plains Road
- Mountain Meadow - On Bell Plains Road near Buffalo Gap, Texas
- Cedar Hills Lake - Also on Bell Plains Road between FM 89 and US 83/84
- The Canyons - off County Road 127 south of Bell Plains Road
- Callahan Divide - off US 83/84 south of Country Road 149
- Vista Del Sol - Located around the Steamboat Mountain area
In commercial development, the southeast area of Abilene, around Loop 322, is likely "ranked third in the city" for development. Currently, all that exists is a family entertainment center, a small local shopping center, a restaurant, and a new gas station. Albeit, that could easily change in near future with the area possibly on the move towards self-sustainability. The area is definitely a leading source of residential development. Several subdivisions have broken ground around the Loop area and along Oldham Lane/FM 1750. As business develops in the area, the southeast region could become analogous to the southwest area, but today the region is only in its initial stages.
Though only a few new businesses are in the southeast area outside of Loop 322, the area does show promise for future growth. With housing construction on the rise, the region proves to be a good market for residential necessity businesses such as grocery and home improvement stores or possibly restaurants. Currently, however, there exist a unique collection of various local businesses and very few, if any, chain stores.
- Prime Time Family Entertainment Center - Located on the Loop 322 frontage road, this 15-acre (61,000 m2) family-oriented business has become widely successful, offering a venue unlike that found anywhere else in the city.
- Skyline Oven & Grill - Located in Prime Time Family Entertainment Center
- Lone Star Outpost Retail Center - Small shopping plaza of local businesses given similar architecture to the nearby Lone Star Ranch subdivision
- Copper Creek Restaurant - Upscale restaurant that often hosts live music
Residential Near Loop 322
- Lone Star Ranch - Subdivision off Loop 322 near Prime Time FEC, 87 of 125 lots are currently developed
- Vaquero Ranch - Upscale Spanish-themed and gated community, 16 of 31 lots developed
- Lytle South addition - Addition to Lytle South neighborhood, south of E Industrial Boulevard and east of Oldham Lane
- Tuscany Village - Fenced subdivision of duplexes between Loop 322, Oldham Lane, and E Industrial Boulevard
- Indian Wells - South of Vaquero Ranch, brick-home subdivision off Oldham Lane
- Parkside Place - Largest subdivision in the area in terms of number of houses, houses start in the low $90s
Residential Along FM 1750
- Colonial Hills - Begun in 2002, large-lot subdivision at Colony Hill Road and Oldham Lane/FM 1750
- Blackhawk - Newer development similar to Colonial Hills south of the subdivision with large lots and open housing
- Pack Saddle Pass - Also an open-air subdivision with several lots still undeveloped off FM 1750
- Pack Saddle Farms - Very similar to Pack Saddle Pass across the street
- Seven Winds - South of Pack Saddle Pass with more compact housing but large backyards
- Southwind Estates - Larger-home subdivision off Clark Road near the bend in FM 1750
Along State Highway 351 outside of I-20 and along the interstate to the west, the northeast region of Abilene technically started development in the mid-1980s when the Heritage Parks subdivision first broke ground. However, after the turn of the 21st century, construction accelerated rapidly for the area to become the second strongest area of development in the city. Since 2005, the Heritage Parks subdivision has expanded; a new community and apartment complex have begun; a Wal-Mart has been attracted to the area, enticing more commercial growth, and a new master-planned commercial district has been created by a major developer, Kenneth Musgrave, who owned, and still owns, much of the land in the area along SH 351.
- Wal-Mart Supercenter, which replaced the old regular Wal-Mart on N. Judge Ely Blvd.
- Chili's - Located in front of Wal-Mart Supercenter
- Cracker Barrel - At the corner of SH 351 and I-20, ranked No. 1 in the nation for a few weeks after its opening
- Abilene Corners Shopping Center, located next to Wal-Mart Supercenter, includes Dollar Tree and Cato Fashions
- Wal-Mart strip mall, consists of GameStop plus Movies Too, Sally Beauty Supply, Dr. J Express Care, Radio Shack, and others
- Holiday Inn Express - Just behind Comfort Suites, constructed just before the recent explosive commercial growth
- Comfort Suites - Enterprise Dr. and I-20 near across from Lowe's
- A2Z Self Storage - At Union Ln and SH 351 near Heritage Parks
- Sleep Inn - Just off West Lake Rd just south of I-20, currently under construction
- Enterprise Plaza, the master-planned commercial area mentioned above, currently includes Lowe's and Jack in the Box, with a Residence Inn opened in early 2009 and a Hilton Homewood Suites, Wendy's, and a possible seafood restaurant, as well as other businesses, coming soon
- Heritage Parks, begun in the mid-1980s, but accelerated expansion in the 2000s
- The Enclave, a fenced community with a single entrance and a branch off Heritage Parks with its own unique housing architecture
- The Residence at Heritage Parks, a new apartment complex off East Lake Rd and currently under construction
- The Grove - Apartments at N Judge Ely Blvd and I-20, aimed at attracting students from the nearby Abilene Christian University
- Carl Kieke. "Building on the Rise" Abilene Reporter-News January 27, 2008.
- Carl Kieke. "Construction Zone," Abilene Reporter-News, May 19, 2008.
- City of Abilene Website - Construction and Repair Listing: Southwest Drive Traffic Improvements
- Doug Myers. "Taking it to the streets," Abilene Reporter-News, April 7, 2008.
- Winters Freeway is not three lanes...yet
- Mall of Abilene property facts Property Fact Sheet, page 2
- From nonprofit to photography
- City of Abilene GIS Website
- Loop 322 on the grow Quoted Richard Petree, Taylor County Chief Appraiser
- "Building on the Rise" (Look at the bottom of the article.)
- Prime Time offers family fun
- City of Abilene GIS Website - ArcIMS Viewer
- Enterprising Workaholic