EUNICE — Several years in the making, Love’s Travel Stop and Country Stores (Love’s) will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking in Eunice at 3 p.m. today.
The popular truck stop is to be constructed at the southeast corner of the intersection of NM 18 and NM 176, a location annexed to the City of Eunice last year.
The nearest Love’s is in Andrews, about 35 miles east, although the Pilot in west Hobbs is shown as a Love’s property on the company’s location map.
Love’s is a family-owned chain of more than 470 truck stop and convenience stores in 41 states. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the privately owned company is ranked as No. 18 on the 2017 Forbes list of America’s largest private companies.
The travel stops are located along highways and offer additional amenities such as convenience store products, food from restaurant chains, trucking supplies, showers and RV dump stations. Love’s has approximately 22,000 employees.
Lea County purchased the property to be occupied by Love’s from the State Land Office in 2010 with the intention of using the land to promote economic development.
Love’s entered an agreement with Lea County in October 2016 to purchase about 27 acres at that intersection for $100,000, contingent upon New Mexico State Board of Finance approval. The state agency approved the purchase in April 2017 and Love’s proceeded with obtaining various permits and approvals, including that of the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
The Eunice City Council, in September 2017, annexed the property into the city limits resulting in the city providing access to water and sewer services while collecting gross receipts taxes from the business.
Closure of the real estate purchase from Lea County occurred in March 2018.
Love’s acquired 20 Pilot Travel Centers locations and six Flying J locations in 2010 due to antitrust concerns in order for the Federal Trade Commission to approve the Pilot/Flying J merger. The Pilot store in Hobbs is shown on an Internet map of Love’s properties.
In June 2017, Love’s opened its first location in Montana, its 41st state of operation.
Love’s spokesman Alex Fuller said he expected construction in Eunice to take 180-200 days before a ribbon cutting and grand opening can be held.