Tractor Supply eyes January 2016 opening

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By SEAN SHAPIRO and SHELLY WILKISON

Liberty Hill’s first large retail chain store is expected to open in January 2016, and the City Council took the first step to welcome the new business on Feb. 13 by approving a development agreement that approves the removal of trees at the building site.

It was announced in September 2014 by Liberty Hill City Manager Greg Boatright that Tractor Supply Company would build a new store on Loop 332. Officials from the company finally confirmed those plans to The Independent this week.

The soft opening for the store is currently set for Jan. 2, 2016, according to Rob Haskins, a media relations representative from Tractor Supply.

“As a growth minded company, Tractor Supply Company (TSC) is always looking for potential new store locations that are a good fit as far as the target market is concerned,” Haskins said. “Concerning the location in Liberty Hill, this is especially true in that the area was attractive due to the part-time and hobby farmers, and horse owners in the area.”

The new Liberty Hill location will be approximately 18,800 square feet and it will employ “12 to 17” full-time and part-time employees. Haskins didn’t have an exact layout of the plan, but it’s believed all or most of those employees would be new hires from the local community.

On Feb. 13, the Council unanimously approved a development agreement with Tractor Supply that will allow the company to remove the majority of the trees on the 4.5-acre lot. City Planner Jim Bechtol said in return, the company agreed to pay the City $25,000, which will be used to plant trees in other parts of the city.

According to city ordinance, trees that are 18 inches in diameter or larger may not be removed without approval from the City.

Bechtol said the preliminary plat, which is still under review by city staff, shows the company plans to remove 48 percent of the property’s 543 total inches of trees.

The development agreement also allows the store to exceed a 25-foot height limit. Bechtol said the storefront will exceed the limit defined by city ordinance by less than five feet.

Bechtol said the agreement approved by Council last week is the first step in the process for Tractor Supply. The preliminary plat, site plans and building plans also require city approval before construction can begin.

Liberty Hill will be the ninth Tractor Supply location in central Texas, according to the company website. The company, which operates 1,100 stores in 44 states, already has stores established nearby in Cedar Park and Georgetown.

Tractor Supply is a multi-purpose hardware and supply store. In addition to hardware and tools, Tractor Supply also sells fencing, livestock feed and supplies, work clothing and welding equipment, among other items.

While the company didn’t officially confirm it until this week, the potential development has been a point of discourse in the community. The planned location at the “Park Place” – which was home to a long vacated two-story house — is a short distance from Winkley’s General Store, a family-owned business that serves a similar demographic.

In January, the San Antonio-based Bill’s Tractor closed its Liberty Hill business, which was located directly across Loop 332 from the Tractor Supply site. A spokesman for Bill’s Tractor told The Independent at that time that the pending opening of Tractor Supply did not influence the company’s decision to close its doors in Liberty Hill.

Tractor Supply is not the first chain to target Liberty Hill, and likely won’t be the last. In 2014, Chicken Express, a fast-food franchise with more than 170 locations, opened a new restaurant on State Highway 29. It was the first new restaurant to open in the city since Sonic opened in 2008.

“Tractor Supply Company is excited about being a new member of the Liberty Hill business community,” Haskins stated.

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