The Longview Economic Development Corp. is again looking for a buyer for a long vacant lot at Estes Parkway and Interstate 20.
A nearly $2 million deal with Southlake-based Verdad Real Estate to purchase the 6.62 acres had been on hold since 2021, but Wayne Mansfield, president and CEO of LEDCO, said Verdad had withdrawn from the deal after encountering difficulties in gaining access to the vehicle he wanted. the property.
“We continue to market the property,” Mansfield said, adding that he will speak to federal officials this summer in an effort to resolve the access issue. The developers wanted direct access to the property only from the Interstate 20 access road, but the Federal Highway Administration denied the request.
The land at 3127 Estes Parkway was for years an eyesore in South Longview. It previously housed a ramshackle gas station and a Holiday Inn which was once one of Longview’s finest hotels. Built in 1967, the hotel had 190 rooms, a restaurant and bar, banquets for 500 people and a swimming pool. The hotel, however, refused and eventually closed. A Dallas company bought the hotel in 2008, began demolition and then abandoned plans to redevelop the property. The shell of the hotel has sat for years.
LEDCO purchased the property in 2013, demolished the hotel and gas station, and prepared the property for sale. This is the second time that the purchase of the property has failed. The first deal fell through after a change of plan by one of the companies which was supposed to move into the planned commercial development.
A Verdad representative, Kimberly Banks, said in an email that “city staff and the economic development corporation have been very helpful, but we are unable to move the project forward at this time.”
Mansfield said the Federal Highway Administration had previously approved the types of requests made by Verdad, but he said that no longer happens under the current administration.
The Federal Highway Administration confirmed that it had denied the sponsor’s request.
“The developer requested permission from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to have an entrance constructed on the property, but the entrance in question was from an interstate entrance ramp, not a driveway. It has long been a policy of FHWA to work to ensure safe access to and from the interstate entrance ramps and, for these safety reasons, denied the developer’s request and suggested accessing the property from the existing Estes Parkway,” the agency said.
The Texas Department of Transportation said it provides other access options.
“In order to provide access to the ramp, the Federal Highway Administration requires an Interstate Access Rationale Request (IAJR) and construction of a frontage road,” said TxDOT spokesman Jeff Willford. “We can no longer connect to the interstate ramps without building the frontage roads. We have worked with the Longview Economic Development Corporation (LEDCO) and the City of Longview to enable two access points along Estes Parkway.
Mansfield said the issue was security. Drivers traveling north on Estes Parkway should turn left through the median to enter the property.
“We have verbal approval from TxDOT for a midcut,” Mansfield said, and there is a “narrow entrance” on the north side of Waffle House next to the property.
“That makes it problematic,” Mansfield said, adding that direct access from the access road is safer than trying to turn left onto Estes Parkway.
The access issue is not helping LEDCO market the property, he said.
“From a retail perspective, you want as much access as possible, but in a secure way,” Mansfield said.