Putnam gets third Sheetz; fourth coming
Construction work is under way on Putnam County's third Sheetz location, and work on the county's fourth location is set to begin this spring.
Crews started work last week at the site of a new Sheetz location in Poca, at the intersection of W.Va. 62 and W.Va. 25. The store is expected to open in June.
Executives at Sheetz, a family-owned company based in Altoona, Pa., with stores in six states, have overseen an aggressive expansion plan in recent years.
The popular convenience store and gas station chain - known especially for its Made To Order food brand of hot and cold sandwiches, pizza and wraps - has been opening 30 to 35 locations each year.
The company's 42nd West Virginia store opened in Clarksburg last month, and officials have dubbed the Kanawha Valley a "primary growth area."
While Putnam County has proven fertile ground for the company, its officials are still having a hard time securing property in Kanawha County.
Sheetz real estate director David Hazelet said the company is eager to expand into the Charleston market but has hit a roadblock.
"We have not been able to finalize any locations in Kanawha County," he said. "We would like to, but we haven't been able to do that."
Hazelet said the company would want Kanawha County stores to offer the full range of Sheetz services. That would include enough space for inside dining, a barista-staffed coffee and espresso area and the full-array of convenience store grocery items.
The lot would need to be large enough to support several gas pumps.
"We need at least an acre and a half, but we'd actually prefer two acres," Hazelet said.
It would also need to be close to major highways and interstates that crisscross the county.
That kind of land is in tight supply in the Charleston metro area.
"It's difficult to find a piece of ground large enough for us that hasn't already been developed," he said.
Besides securing the land, the company also has to go through an extensive permitting and evaluation process before it can get the green light to build a store.
Permits have to be cleared by local planning and zoning commissions as well as the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The company has targeted a pair of Kanawha County sites, but Hazelet said it is still too early in the process to know whether stores can be built.
"There are two we're working on," he said. "If they both came to fruition, we'd be very happy."
In addition to the Poca store, Sheetz is planning to build its fourth Putnam County store at the intersection of Green Acres Drive and Teays Valley Road in Hurricane.
Hazelet said construction at that site is slated to begin this spring, with an opening date tentatively planned for the fall.
Construction is also under way on a new Sheetz store in Martinsburg, and that should open later this year.
Sheetz plans to continue an active West Virginia construction schedule for the next few years.
"We'd like to open at least four to six (new stores) in West Virginia every year," Hazelet said.
While some sites are still being considered in select areas around Morgantown and the Eastern Panhandle, Hazelet said plans call for most of the company's West Virginia expansion to take place in the southern part of the state.
In particular, the company is eyeing locations along Interstate 64 between Huntington and Charleston and along the West Virginia Turnpike between Charleston and Princeton.
But Hazelet said the company is open to other areas.
"We don't want to limit ourselves," he said. "That's just what we want to use as a guide."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5148.