A new RaceTrac gas station could be coming to Hammonds Crossing, and neighbors have some strong and differing opinions about it.
The store is planned for the north intersection of Hammonds Crossing — the crossroads of Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369) and Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306) — and people at nearby stores are split on the impact of their potential neighbor.
It would go at the side of the intersection currently occupied by a small strip mall, which has the same address as the proposed RaceTrac.
The more than 5,000-square-foot store is planned to have more than 40 parking spots and more than 30,000 square feet of open space.
Forsyth County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the building’s design for a Jan. 4 regular meeting.
Virgil Ohler, who said he is a temp manager for the Texaco station beside the proposed store and worked primarily at the Valero station across the street, said there is a sense of community at stores near the intersection.
He said traffic is already heavy at the intersection during rush hour.
“I grew up in this area ... The new owner is going to spruce [the Texaco store] up and make it something decent,” Ohler said. “Aside from that, [if] you put a RaceTrac here, it’s a nightmare already for traffic … it’s just going to entice more people to come through.”
On the other side of the proposed store, Tim Hawkins, manager at Hammond’s Fishing Center, said his store would see some benefits from the RaceTrac, such as improving the aesthetics of the intersection and safety, since the store is open all night and has extra cameras.
“I’m not opposed to it,” Hawkins said. “They’re actually adding parking in the back of their store for our customers as well. They’ve been really nice to us. They’ve offered to change some of their plans for us. I’ve had no issues with them whatsoever.”
Not surprisingly, traffic is a concern for those on all sides of the issue, and there are plans for future road improvements to the area.
Hawkins said the new roadway would be a divided median, and he didn’t think it would have a huge impact on the Valero station.
“I don’t think people are going to come across the road to go to RaceTrac for gas or anything like that because the intersection is going to be a little tougher to navigate,” he said. “I think each corner is going to have their own [customers].”
Ohler said the intersection has a community-feel, which cannot be replaced by the proposed new station.
“A lot of people in the metro-area they like that, but this town still has a lot of the small-town feel to it. And a lot of the people moving here want that back,” he said. “We have some old guys that come into Valero and every Saturday and Sunday like clockwork they get their coffee, they scratch their lottery tickets, they hang out and chit-chat with each other. You can’t get that at a RaceTrac.”
Liz McIntyre, a spokeswoman with RaceTrac, said there has not been a confirmed opening date but said the store will have many state-of-the-art features.
“The Browns Bridge Road location will be our new store prototype, featuring a Swirl World frozen dessert station with up to 10 flavors and 41 toppings and a large coffee area with enough counter space to create the perfect cup of coffee,” she said. “These new stores also have a more shoppable layout, ample seating, free Wi-Fi and more lighting in the store and parking lot to deliver a better guest experience. Outside all of our new and updated stores, you’ll find a clean, well-lit parking lot, and thoughtful elements like exterior seating options.”