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New travel center breaks ground in Gary

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman- Wils(center) greets David McAninch Deerfield Constructisuperintendent (left) Steve Taylor Deerfield senior project manager (right) during ceremonial

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman- Wilson (center) greets David McAninch, Deerfield Construction superintendent, (left) and Steve Taylor, Deerfield senior project manager, (right) during a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Gary Petro Stopping Center in Gary, Ind. Tuesday November 20, 2012. The facility replaces the former Steel City truck stop. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 22, 2012 6:23AM



GARY — The lure of a 28-acre location in the shadow of the country’s busiest highway led TravelCenters of America LLC to invest $20 million in a full-service travel center at 3001 Grant St., just south of the Borman Expressway.

“It’s a few hundred yards from the busiest interstate that exists. It’s a very, very busy stretch,” said Thomas D. Liutkus, TravelAmerica’s vice president of marketing.

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday morning, although construction is already under way on the amenity-laden Gary Petro Stopping Center that’s expected to open by late spring of 2013.

Besides the usual truck stop appointments such as showers and a restaurant called Iron Skillet, there will be a Taco Bell, a Pizza Hut and a Verizon UltraMobile store along with a movie room and fitness room for truckers who need a break.

In addition, there will be 15 diesel pumps and eight gasoline pumps with 16 fueling positions.

Barry Richards, executive vice president of operations for TravelCenters of America, based in Westlake, Ohio, said 130 to 150 new jobs will be created. It acquired the facility last year along with five other travel centers when Gas City sold its assets.

The city, which leased the land to Gas City, sold the site to Travel America Corp. last month for $1.7 million in a deal brokered by the city’s Department of Commerce and Gary Economic Development Corp.

The company demolished the old Steel City Truck Stop to make way for its new travel center. Deerfield Construction, based in Loveland, Ohio, is building the travel center.

“We razed an old, tired building and now are giving rise to something new and exciting,” said Richards.

Pete Ward, a senior vice president for TravelAmerica, said it’s the first new Petro center in six years. The company, which operates the Petro and TravelAmerica brands, has 242 locations in 41 states and Canada.

“This is another sign of progress in the city,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “It’s a prime example of how well the Department of Commerce has worked.”

The company plans to hold job fairs to attract local employees as it nears its grand opening.



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