Competing interests vie for Exit 118 land: Travel Plazas, aka truck stops, could be on the horizon for I-15 Exits 118 and 120

It’s almost along the lines of the old-fashioned land grab during the 1880s in the Midwestern plains of the nation. And it was bound to happen as the new Interstate 15 Exit 118 interchange gets closer and closer to becoming a reality.

At Tuesday’s Mesquite City Council meeting, several items on the agenda will push the land grab into high gear.

The city owns 104 acres that straddles Lower Flat Top Boulevard, where it will meet the planned off-ramp for Exit 118 on the north side of the Interstate. The land is divided into two parcels: 5.71 acres lays on one side of the road with the remaining 98.24 acres on the other side. An appraisal commissioned by the city pegs the value of the combined parcels at $1.535 million. A second appraisal, paid for by a development group interested in purchasing the land, came in at $1.610 million.

The first agenda item the council will consider is the sales method to be used for the land. Two processes are available: a public auction or a direct sale for economic development purposes.

According to Aaron Baker, city economic development officer, three Letters of Intent received so far express interest in the land. Adjacent property owner, Hae Un Lee (owner of Lee’s Liquors stores) desires to purchase just the 5.71 acre lot. 333 Eagles Landing LLC, shows interest in the entire 104 acres. Mesquite Exit 118 Group LLC including Todd Leavitt and Stephan Wade of Stephan Wade auto dealerships, also wants both parcels.

Should the council decide to pursue a public auction sale method, even more businesses and developers could be involved. The minimum price for the combined parcels would begin at the $1.610 million mark.

By far, 333 Eagles Landing LLC has submitted the most extensive proposal package for the property and wants the city to use a direct sales method for them. They will pay the $1.610 million and build a Travel Plaza, aka truck stop, convenience store and several small restaurants in Phase I worth $6 million. The group plans to hire at least 40 people with an average hourly wage of $11. Phase II would include at least a hotel and other facilities based on market demand.

“We intend to have a state-of-the-art facility that will be architecturally beautiful with very nice details and design,” said Andy Geller, managing partner of 333 Eagles Landing in a telephone interview. “We are not a ‘Solstice.’ We do not intend to sit on the property or flip it if we purchase it. We will open for business within three years of the date we purchase the property or much sooner.”

His reference to Solstice stems from the failed project at the corner of Falcon Ridge Parkway and West Pioneer Boulevard that stands empty to this day.

Lee’s LOI did not include a specific dollar amount nor any firm plans for development. While the Mesquite Exit 118 Group offered $800,000 cash for the 104 acres, they did not include specific end use plans in their LOI.

The other two agenda items relate to the land sale issue but both depend on the sale method Council decides upon. One will set a date for a public auction should the councilors decide to go that route. The other will pertain to a direct land sale to one of the groups that submitted a LOI, should the councilors decide to use that type of process. So, depending on the decision stemming from the first vote, only one of the two subsequent agenda items will stand for a vote.

Throwing a monkey wrench into all of this is another issue planned for the Nov. 10 council meeting. Pilot Flying J Corporate headquarters intends to file a zoning variance request that, if approved, will allow it to build a Travel Plaza on the southwest corner of the I-15 Exit 120 interchange. It too will include a truck stop with 122 bays, a convenience store, and restaurants.

The immediate family of Councilman Kraig Hafen owns the property, not the city. However, city officials and others involved in the proposal have all emphatically stated that Hafen has refused to engage in any discussions or talks about the project.

The MLN was told that Pilot Flying J was not interested in building a Travel Plaza at Exit 118 because “it was too far from town and doesn’t fit with our new business model. We think Exit 120 is a much better spot for us. The roundabouts can handle the truck traffic.”

Geller, with the 333 Eagles Landing Group, told the MLN that should the Pilot Flying J variance be approved, “the competition will definitely change our design plans. We will still build, but our facility will be smaller. Mesquite can’t support two big Travel Centers so closely together. Besides, Exit 118 was built expressly to relieve truck traffic from the other two interchanges.”

To be sure, the land grab rush is on.


  1. Margaret Clark says:

    What this town needs is a Target store.

  2. Brent Carson says:

    Hey we go again, with the good old boy land ripoff. Kraig Hafen and the entire Hafen family will do a huge disservice to the entire community if he tries to manipulate the city into letting him build a “travel plaza” at exit 120. First Kraig, there is already a travel plaza less than 1 block away from you property (by Walmart). Second, the last thing we senior drivers need is a lot of increased traffic using that roundabout. Don’t be stupid Kraig. Lots of us go that way to get to hospital or doctor. The whole plan was for the travel plaza to be at exit 118, way out of town. Don’t be greedy Think of us citizens for once. We DO NOT need Flying J ruining that part of town.

    • Actually now that you mentioned the word citizen. I am one of those citizens who support this proposed Flying J. This town not only has seniors it has families and younger residents who would love to see more job markets open in Mesquite. The roundabout is horrible but the design needs a little easy cost efficient tweak. Why not reduce the massive islands at the center of each roundabout so it can better accommodate cars/diesels and not just golf carts? Instead of shooing business away why don’t we find a medium that can work for both the seniors and the younger residents? Wouldn’t this roundabout tweak I proposed help elevate that traffic issue? Heck what if there were special lanes paid for by the company Flying J so that that it would direct truckers away from the roundabouts? Let’s finds solutions first before we go pick up our pitch forks.

  3. YIKES!!! The Travel plaza that was slated to be at Exit 122 was defeated a while back. There was absolutely too much traffic in that part of town to add truckers to the mix. The same is true of Exit 120. We have had several semis flip on the roundabout in the last year or two, some spilling loads. Put truckers in the mix with drivers who do not know or care how to safely drive on a two lane roundabout and that exit will be closed mostof the time due to accidents. WE DO NOT NEED FLYING J on Exit 120. If they can’t live with the plans to have a truck stop/plaza at Exit 118 as had been the decision all along, then Flying J can take a flying leap and go elsewhere. The perfect example of a truck stop being close to a town is Tremonton, UT. Everything is there for the convenience of the truckers and its easy access off or on to the freeway. There are also two motels there – the Western Inn where we stay when traveling north and the Hampton Inn. Several fast foods restaurants plus Denny’s. Exit 118 could look like that and the truckers wouldn’t be clogging up the roundabout nor destroying Hafen’s property or the view that we now have. I truly do miss the horses that were there prior to the roundabout being put in.

    • Why must we be one sided on this? Honestly I think the empty property the Hafen’s have abandoned is atrocious! I grow tired of seeing it empty and full of weeds year round and would like to see business come in. Yes the roundabout can be a pain with traffic but there are many ways to elevate such problems like I mentioned above in Brent’s comment. I want to hear more solutions/ideas offered before we just go immediately into blocking a potential business from coming into town. To each their own I guess but thanks for sharing your views on this matter. Hopefully we can peacefully agree to disagree ?

      • Oh I forgot to add I like ur reference to Tremonton, UT. Drove past that town a couple times. I agree with ya on it being a great example and it would be nice to see something like that here ?

  4. The Hafen’s are landowners and have the right to develop their property as they see fit in accordance to city zoning regulations. They aren’t greedy, they are businessman. Now, the Travel Park belongs at the new exit ramp areas. Everyone complained a few years ago and that is where the general population wanted it. So, sell at the highest amount and let them build. Jobs and taxes are important too. The seniors need to think of others for a change. The Hafen family are good people, don’t demonize them for your selfish reasons.

  5. laytonian says:

    A travel plaza at Exit 118 is a great idea but PLEASE not Eagles Landing!
    You’re all forgetting the tire scammers that preyed on RV owners at their other locations in Utah (Beaver, Scipio).

    What Mesquite needs:
    1 – A Costco at Exit 118. Let THEM sell high-quality fuels and tires. .
    2 – An outlet shopping center (like Tanger Outlet Centers) replacing the old Mesquite Star property.
    3 – “No trucks” allowed at Exit 120. Too many accidents at those poorly-designed traffic circles. Make a southbound, west-side frontage road off Exit 118 for truck traffic.
    4 – In-N-Out Burger.

    PS — that “travel center” by Walmart is NOT a real travel center and their fuel prices are outrageous. They are merely predatory for those taking the exit, the first thing they see. (Like the station by McDonalds at exit 122).

  6. Hate to tell everyone but this is a done deal.
    1- hafen involved
    2- rumor has it he has a signed agreement with flying j
    3- all he needs is his 2 partners in crime- rapson ,geno to vote with him to pass it.
    4- wait and see if hafen does not excuse himself from this vote

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