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TYLER, TX-A Knoxville-based developer of service centers for long-distance truck drivers acquired 19.8 acres of raw land just outside this east Texas city for development of a new project. Pilot Travel Centers LLC of Knoxville, TN acquired the property at the intersection of Interstate 20 and Farm-to-Market 14 from Dallas-based Yoder Partners Ltd.

Jerry Yoder, executive vice president of the Dallas Retail Division of Henry S. Miller Realty Services LLC, arranged the transaction on behalf of his son, who owns Yoder Partners. According to the elder Yoder, the property was listed with a Tyler-based broker for close to two years with no action before he took over the assignment. After coming on board, he made calls to several national companies with which he had previously done business and quickly had a deal under way.

“It didn’t take us long after I got the listing,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “When I contacted Pilot and told them about it, they were very interested. Probably the local Tyler guy put signs up on the property, but he didn’t have the network of contacts like we do in Dallas.”

The quick sales agreement, however, did not result in a quick closing. According to Yoder, the property was under contract for a year and a half. “They were trying to get their ducks in a row as far as utilities to the site go,” he explains. “The property is not in the city of Tyler, but it is in its jurisdiction. The buyer thought they were going to have to put an on-site utility system in themselves. But the buyer and seller talked to city, and it ended up that Tyler would design, build and construct a sewer system to the site, so the developer wouldn’t have all the costs on its shoulders.”

Yoder would not reveal the price paid for the land and does not know the project development cost, but he says, “I thought the seller got a decent price. When you get up into that area, out of the jurisdiction of a city, where there’s no utilities, you have a hard time figuring out the right price. But I don’t think they would have bought it if they thought they couldn’t make it work.”

Pilot Travel operates 262 travel centers in 39 states and licenses 13 locations in Kansas, Montana, Iowa and Nebraska. Projects typically have one to three quick-serve restaurants along with shower and rest facilities for drivers, diesel stations and big-rig parking. Specific details on the Tyler project were not available at press time, but Yoder reports Pilot Travel began construction of the facility immediately after closing, with completion expected by late spring or early summer.

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