Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

TOP STORY >> Beebe enjoys steady growth

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Its not a boom yet, but Beebe is growing at a faster rate than it has in the past and new businesses are opening to provide services that will be needed to support a larger population.

Allen Ridings, Beebes code enforcement officer, said this week that he has sold almost as many building permits in the first nine months of 2005 as he sold all of last year.

Its really getting ready to bust out, he said.
Perhaps the most obvious commercial addition is the new Sonic on Dewitt Henry Drive which opened Sunday. The old Sonic was razed two months ago to make room for the new one, which boasts the longest canopy in Arkansas, just a few feet short of the length of a football field.
Beebe Alderman Bobby Robinson, who owns the restaurant, said he has hired about 40 young people to staff the business and he intends to put them on roller skates to make their car-side deliveries.

With a canopy that is almost 100 yards long, skates will make for faster service, but also, Its just more fun, he said.
Around the corner from the new Sonic on Hwy. 64, Community Bank will soon have a second full-service branch with a canopy covering four drive-through stations.

Tracy French, CEO of Comm-unity Bank in Cabot, said his customer base had already outgrown the current branch on Dewitt Henry Drive and he believes Beebe will continue to grow, especially along Hwy. 64.

A new interchange opened last month in Beebe that makes for easier access to ASU-Beebe. When it did, a new Conoco station was already there, ready to cash in on the change of traffic flow.

Now, a new Simmons Bank is planned for a lot across the street from the new gas station. Also planned for the same area is a 66-unit apartment complex.

A new car wash is going in on Dewitt Henry Drive near the existing Community Bank and farther down the street toward McRae, plans are set for 24 apartments.

Two small subdivisions are also in the works, one with 29 lots off East Mississippi and one with seven between Hwy. 31 and 1st Street.
Much of the growth in the Beebe area is outside the city limits. Growth inside the city is limited by the lack of available land, and an attempt to grow by annexation failed this summer.

Economic Director Marjorie Armstrong said it is unclear at this time if the city will attempt annexation again in the near future. Its up to the council to decide if and when they will try again.
Well just have to wait and see, she said.