Beyond Buc-ee’s: Growth ahead for Leeds


LEEDS, Ala. (WIAT) — After landing central Alabama’s first Buc-ee’s, the city of Leeds is looking ahead to even more growth.

Wednesday, Mayor David Miller said the gas station giant was expected to create more than 100 jobs when it opens in 2020.

“We’ve got an awful lot going on at that exit and Buc-ee’s is just a super addition,” said Miller.

Miller is referring to the growth off exit 140 in his city.

The corridor is already home to a Bass Pro Shop, Barber Motorsports Park, and the Shops at Grand River.

“This interchange out here has got to explode, it’s the last place left in Jefferson County that hasn’t reached it’s potential,” said Miller.

Off the same exit, a drive-in movie theater is set to open on July 3 by the Shops at Grand River.

“It is easy to get to, the interstate is right there, and so we are just trying to bring some more food and fun to this area,” said Clay Greene, Director of Marketing and Events for the Grand River Drive-In.

The Grand River Drive-In will have putt-putt and other backyard games for families to play.

Greene told CBS 42 the venue plans to add live music, a Saw’s BBQ Restaurant, and a Brew Pub called ‘Neighbors’ later this year.

Visitors who already drive for the shopping say it will be a welcome attraction.

“That’s going to be amazing. I bet it’s going to be packed all the time. We’ll definitely be out here a lot more,” said Jeana Hartshorn and Josalyn Lovitt from Gadsden.

The city recently purchased 100 acres just west of the shops. Miller hopes to develop restaurants, hotels, and other retail options.

Miller said he’s also working on a possible trade with U.S. Steel, which owns hundreds of acres in the area.

According to Miller, the city would like to build a bridge over the Cahaba River onto U.S. Steel property. In exchange, the city would be allowed to develop on the land.

Miller envisions a regional sports complex to host tournaments and bring in visitors. He said U.S. Steel could then develop the land near the sports fields if it chooses.

Greene told CBS 42 that she hopes to see development near the river so people can enjoy the water.

“We are looking to do a canoe launch, and kind of a pool for people to hang out and float the river in and we kind of want to be a spot for that, hopefully, some new and exciting things going down there by the river,” said Greene.

Construction is underway at the Southern Museum of Flight off the same exit. The attraction is also expected to be a boost for the area.

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