Eat It, Virginia


Buc-ee’s intends to open a new travel center in Virginia, county officials share

Posted at 12:21 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-07 12:48:09-05

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- New Kent County Virginia Economic Department officials announced Monday that Buc-ee’s Travel Center "intended" to open a location off Interstate 64 (Exit 211) in New Kent County.

The mega-sized gas station, which devoted fans praise for its barbecue and unique gifts, would open sometime in 2027, according to the department's social media post.

Jeff Nadalo, general counsel and spokesperson for Buc-ee's, confirmed the Texas-based chain was doing its due diligence on the New Kent plan to see if it fit the company's needs.

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Buc-ee’s location in San Antonio, Texas

New Kent officials said the 74,000 square-foot-store would have 120 fuel pumps and more than 550 parking spots.

"Buc-ee’s development team is currently working closely with VDOT and County planning staff to evaluate the transportation improvements required by the Project," the New Kent County post read.

One hundred thousand drivers are expected to stop by every week.

"We're going to have people on the secondary roads for less than a mile. Going somewhere anyway, getting off, spending money, getting right back on the interstate. So in the economic development world. No impact to your services, yet they spend their tax dollars here in the community," Matthew Smolnick, New Kent County's assistant county administrator, said.

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Buc-ee’s location in San Antonio, Texas

Some of those improvements include:

  • Ongoing efforts to widen Interstate 64
  • Adding an interstate overpass

"A Conditional Use Permit has been submitted to the County’s Planning and Zoning Department," the county posted on social media. "The Applicant’s request for this Conditional Use Permit is solely limited to the review and approval of a proposed sign plan."

Nadalo said it generally took 14 to 20 months for a Buc-ee's to open once the ground is broken. He added any update on Buc-ee's New Kent plan would be released by the company. He also said Buc-ee's was considering other sites for expansion in Virginia, but that New Kent was furthest along in the process.

The county said the business is a catalyst for economic growth, set to bring about 175 new full-time jobs that pay more than $15 an hour.

"You can go Christmas shopping at this store and I really didn't believe it until I walked into one and sure enough, you can. To say we could have the first one here in Virginia is really something special and that's really what New Kent is about," Smonick said.

Smolnick said the plan has been in the works for about a year.

"We just worked directly with a local broker and the company. Typically you work through the state or maybe a site-selection consultant. The company came right to the broker, and says, 'Here's the crosshairs right here in New Kent County,' they picked up the phone and said, 'Hey Matt, let's talk,'" Smolnick said.

Revenue opportunities, Smolnick said, could help fund new building projects in the county.

"We’re going through those growing pains right now. New schools, new fire stations. How do we pay for this? How do we pay for it without burdening the citizens by increasing the tax rate? A project like this that’s a huge contributor to real estate, personal property, meals tax, that’s what we need to provide our citizens for their needs, but not tax them," he said.

According to Jeff Nadalo, a spokesperson for Buc-ee's, the company was considering other sites for expansion, but New Kent was furthest along in the process.

"There's going to be a public hearing later on this month at the planning commission, followed by a public hearing, hopefully, the next month, with the Board of Supervisors," Smolnick said. "They're trying to time the opening of the store to the completion of the I-64 widening project."

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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