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Shopping centers, restaurants planned near Covenant Hospital

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It was only a matter of time.

With the new $110 million Covenant Health Hobbs hospital being built on the southeast corner of Lovington Highway and Millen Drive the next logical step would be to have local shopping and restaurants developed within walking distance of the facility.

To the north there are two restaurants and a pair of convenience stores. But that’s about to change.

During its meeting Monday, the Hobbs City Commission unanimously approved a development agreement on the extension of installation of public infrastructure, in the form of a sewer line, on undeveloped land at the southwest corner of Millen Drive and Ja-Rob Lane.

The purpose of the sewer line is for the development of three shopping centers planned to be built in three phases at the intersection. The first phase is a center featuring a meat market, a new-look Quiznos restaurant and a Taco del Mar, a Mexican seafood restaurant currently located in cities on the west and east coasts.

The project is led by developers Jay Collins and Dominik Mendoza with construction taking place on eight acres of land.

“We currently are looking at two restaurants and a strip mall,” Collins said of the project’s first phase. “If you look at the full development we are looking at three full restaurants on Millen and three strip malls adjacent to each other. Our main goal is to help give us more places to eat, increase jobs and GRT (gross receipt tax funding for the city).”

Mendoza told the commission he and his wife own New Mexico’s franchise rights to Quiznos and Taco Del Mar. It was one of the reasons the Mendozas got to work with Quiznos’ parent company in creating a different type of eatery not found in the restaurant’s family. Mendoza showed the commissioners drawing ideas.

“This is a one-off prototype. First time in the world,” Mendoza said. “That’s why it looks so different. It’s not going to be like anything you have seen. Quiznos is more of a sandwich shop, this is more of a deli-eatery. If you look at the inside it will be totally different. (Quiznos parent company) picked this area because we have the highest earnings for them. The oilfield (industry) helps us a lot. Even (the Hobbs) store without a drive-thru does really well and that is what the whole point of this (new type of designed restaurant).”

Mendoza said the new Quiznos will have a drive-thru, inside/outside dining and garage doors that open the dining room area. All items that work well with current COVID-19 restaurant practices. Mendoza said the Taco Del Mar is smaller with outside dining that is “basically a taco truck, mounted.”

“It’s all fresh seafood flown in,” Mendoza said. “Took a little routing. We had to re-route our food trucks to get the fresh products here. It’ll also have a drive-thru as well. That’ll generate more jobs too.”

Including the meat market, other potential usages for the shopping centers include pharmacies, which Collins said would have drive-thru access and possible doctor’s offices and/or clinics, being so near to the new hospital.

“Always excited to see people investing in the community and bringing new dining choices,” Hobbs Commissioner Chris Mills said. “I know that out on that part of town there are few and far between.”

Hobbs Mayor Sam Cobb said he recently got an update on the status of the Covenant hospital and was told the budget increased to more than $110 million.

“They are adding beds and services,” Cobb said. “So Millen Drive is going to see a lot of activity from people coming and going from the hospital. That’s going to be great for our community.”

All this talk of growth is why the Commission acted on a city staff recommendation for the installation of a larger sewer line than proposed and for the city to pay a maximum fair share reimbursement of $130,363.

The minimum requirement for a developer of a new utility line, in this case the sewer line, is 10 inches in radius. City staff recommended the installation of a 12-inch line at a depth of 10 feet, which is also deeper than developer requirements.

“We feel like in the future, a 10-inch line, which is the minimum requirement for a developer, is not going to be adequate for the future demands of that line,” City of Hobbs Planner Kevin Robinson told the commission. “Additionally staff feels like, and we are advocating, that line is over depthed and extended. The deeper that we place that line right now, if we place it on grade, the further that line will be able to serve.”

Cobb said it has always been the policy of the city to look toward the future when it comes to current development and is obligated to pay the difference.

“That is what we are doing under this development agreement,” Cobb said. “For the future growth of the city, we feel we need a larger line and it needs to be deeper so that we can extend it farther west because we know we are getting ready to have a $110 million hospital on the west end of Millen. So we know there is probably going to be other development on Millen Drive. So for the benefit of the public, now is the time to address those issues.”

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