DeForest could become the site of the first Buc-ee’s in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the Texas-based travel center chain.
Stan Beard, Buc-ee’s real estate director, introduced a concept plan to the DeForest
Village Board at the Feb. 23 committee of the whole meeting, noting that the company is expanding into other states and “just now spreading the love into the rest of the world.”
The plans show a 74,000-square-foot travel center where motorists could fuel up and stop for a variety of food items, including brisket, breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit and more, along with gifts and a variety of other products. Pictures of another Buc-ee’s location showed aisles and aisles of products, a station for fresh cut brisket, including a food market area and a red truck parked in the store.
According to Beard, Buc-ee’s is also known for its “really clean restrooms.”
An article from June 14, 2022 printed in the Austin Journal reported on plans to open the largest of the Buc-ee’s stores in a Texas town 50 miles south of that city. It included this description:
“More than just a pit stop on long road trips throughout the Lone Star State, Buc-ee’s has developed a stellar reputation for its pristine restrooms and endless selection of snacks, drinks and novelty items.”
Beard said when stores are in the process of building, the company reaches out to local crafters, including honey producers, potters and other artisans to sell their products, as well.
Buc-ee’s is not a truck stop, Beard said. And, the stores do not have a convenience store model.
“If you want a can of Copenhagen and a Diet Coke fast, you’re not going to go to Buc-ee’s,” Beard said.
Located in the former Flying J truckstop parcel across from the Pink Elephant, west of the interstate and north of Hwy. V, Buc-ee’s would be open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year and employ approximately 200 people, according to the presentation.
A memo to the village planning and zoning commission, prepared prior to the commission’s consideration of the concept plan Feb. 28, notes that it would have 120 fueling stations under two large canopies between Hwy. I and the building, and two main parking lots south of the building. It would include 613 parking spaces, including six designated for large vehicles, 20 electric vehicle charging stations.
The village board will review an annexation petition for the property in March. An annexation petition has already been received for the property directly south of Hwy. V.
According to Beard, a typical Buc-ee’s customer “comes from 200 miles away and knows that they are going to a Buc-ee’s before they get in the car.”
The stores create the potential for additional growth in communities, Beard said, as they draw a “very specific traffic volume.”
DeForest village board members seemed impressed with the presentation. Trustee Brian Taylor asked if a traffic impact analysis would be done. Work is already underway on that analysis, with some preliminary findings, Beard said. It is included in the packet for the Feb. 28 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Improvements will be needed at the I30/90/94 ramps, Hwy. V and Hwy. I at Hickory Lane, and the south access of Hwy. I. at Hickory Lane and Gene Street, according to that memo to the commission.
Other improvements to consider will be additional turn lanes, roundabouts or traffic signals.
The memo notes that all improvements will be subject to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Dane County and Village of DeForest review and approval.
Bill Landgraf asked about competition with other businesses.
According to Beard, Buc-ee’s would not attract those customers because of the location on the freeway and “because we’re such a national weird thing.”
Trustee Abigail Lowery asked about the impact on stormwater and energy usage.
A stormwater impact analysis would be done as part of the development process with facilities in place to address water volume and quality as such a large impervious surface, Beard said, adding the company also designs buildings to be as energy efficient as possible.
Colleen Little asked how Buc-ee’s chose DeForest.
Buc-ee’s looks at traffic counts when choosing locations, Beard said, and considers areas they might want to be. They are not metropolitan stores, he added.
“We end up being on the route to or from somewhere,” Beard said, and DeForest is a well-placed location for travelers en route to Wisconsin Dells and other summer traffic.
“There’s a constant level of a lot of traffic, and the summer traffic is much greater than that,” Beard said.
Village President Jane Cahill Wolfgram said she had been to a Buc-ee’s and had the brisket, adding the board is excited about the prospect. Trustee Rebecca Witherspoon said she was “very excited” and had learned about the travel center in a travel blog.
According to its website, Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982, and as of last summer had 43 stores operating in Texas and the south.