Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison spoke to the town’s Kiwanis Club last week about the development.
Williamsburg officials are hoping that a new commercial development near Exit 11 will eventually lead to the creation of over 250 new jobs over the next five years.
"It is huge for this area. This is probably a $39 million investment in the city of Williamsburg," Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison told the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club Thursday. "I’m jokingly calling it little Williamsburg Hamburg."
Harrison said that the development behind the old Williamsburg Motel will be called Briar Creek Crossing. Over the next three to five years, officials are hoping that it ultimately will include a new casual dining restaurant, a new motel, a grocery store, and a fuel center along with a strip mall.
"The name of the restaurant may change, but there are people looking at us. To me that is huge," Harrison said. "We are talking retail on one side, possibly a banking institute, and are looking at medical facilities on the other side."
The area is already the proposed site for the new Whitley County Health Department, and Tractor Supply plans to open there this fall.
The health department will sit on about six to eight acres of the 36-acre site, and Tractor Supply will occupy about three to four acres.
"There is a lot of land up there. They have done a lot of work," he added. "I am just really excited."
The City of Williamsburg is doing what it can to help site development, and last week awarded a bid to move water and sewer lines on the property.
The utility lines are currently adjacent to AT&T international fiber optic lines, and the existing water line is too narrow to allow for future development.
Harrison said it wasn’t easy to secure $400,000 in multi-county coal severance funds to pay for the work, and that he called people on both sides of the political aisle for nearly a year until the funding was secured.
Harrison said officials with the Department of Local Government and other officials in Frankfort were marvelous to work with.
He said the projections for job development was a key factor in securing Gov. Steve Beshear’s support.
Other projects underway
Harrison also updated the club on other projects currently underway in town.
Work is underway to get new mast arm traffic signals installed along Main Street over the next couple of weeks, which will be similar to the light poles already in place.
"This will hopefully bring some more pride back to downtown. I think if we bring that pride back, people will start doing some things and maybe some stores will open up," Harrison said.
He said that he would like to see the city become walk, jog and bicycle friendly.
"We have some plans where hopefully in the future, we might do some bicycle trails," he added. "We have some possibilities to partner up with Refuge Ridge."
Harrison also thanked the Williamsburg Kiwanis Club for its work in the community.
"I appreciate partnering up with Kiwanis on our parks and our recreation and what you guys do for the kids in town. They are close to my heart," Harrison added.