by Kate Shunney
Nearly eight years after the Morgantown-based Bruceton Farm Services (BFS) purchased Hancock’s Little Sandy truck stop, BFS has started the permit process to redevelop the Hancock Truck Plaza into a travel center with multiple chain restaurants.
According to documents filed with the Washington County permitting department in March, BFS has applied for permits to do grading at 434 East Main Street for a 7,700 square foot two-story building to include a convenience store, a mezzanine for offices, gas station with canopy, a Little Ceasars pizza and an attached “shell building” for an IHOP restaurant.
BFS has applied for a separate commercial building permit to construct a 3,720 square foot one-story building for a Burger King fast food restaurant with drive-thru.
All of the locations are expected to operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week, permit documents say.
BFS estimates the main two-story travel center will employ 45 people and another 20-30 people will be hired for the Burger King restaurant.
BFS spokeswoman Hayley Graham told The Hancock News on Monday that the company doesn’t have a start date for construction yet but they will open all but the IHOP in December 2021. She said it’s possible the IHOP restaurant will be ready to open then, too.
In response to questions about the current truck stop, Graham said BFS will close the current station rather than leaving it open during construction. There is no date set yet for when the truck will close permanently, she said.
“The BFS travel center will feature a one-stop-shopping event for a wide variety of food and beverage favorites for the Hancock community as well as commuters passing through Hancock,” Graham said.
Travelers will have access to “plenty of overnight parking” and High Flow Diesel with DEF, she added.
BFS is headquartered in Morgantown, W.Va and is a family-owned and operated convenience store chain with more than 70 locations in Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. BFS is a franchise partner with several branded fast food operations.
BFS initially announced plans for a major rebuild of Hancock’s truck plaza in 2015, but those plans were shelved as the company continued to operate the truck stop.
Outgoing Hancock mayor Ralph Salvagno said Monday that years of effort have gone into preparing for the truck stop redevelopment, and he predicts the new travel center will have a major economic development impact on the town.
He said having more travelers stop in Hancock has the potential to expand exposure for all businesses and properties in town.
Salvagno said making sure there was infrastructure in place for BFS to build on was an important part of the behind the scenes work to prepare for development on East Main Street. He credited Town Manager Joe Gilbert with doing the work to ensure those services are available.
Gilbert said that work included increasing available volume for water and waste
water services on that end of town.
“In a general sense, it’ll present jobs and opportunities for economic development for Hancock,” Gilbert said.
A new travel center will also upgrade the face of Hancock on the east end.
“It’s going to be shiny and brand-new. It will be very important to our town,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he will meet this week with the Maryland State Highway Administration about the impacts of higher traffic volumes on the east end, and what improvements the state may need to make to accommodate travelers and future growth in that prime location.
Groundwork has been laid for growth in Hancock for several years, but the BFS project is the first major investment that will be visible to the public.
“I’m really hoping for the town that this is the domino,” Gilbert said of a potential chain of business growth.