Sinton residents will soon begin to see the growth that Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) is bringing to the area as several commercial and residential projects are starting to ramp up.
Joseph “Wiley” McIlwain of Somerset Land Company took to the podium at the Strengthening Sinton with Steel luncheon last Thursday to give updates on what his company is gearing up to do along US Highway 188 at the state Highway 89 bypass, otherwise known as the four corners area which McIlwain called, “One of the best intersections anywhere in South Texas.”
“Well, we’re finally at a stage where we’ve broken ground,” McIlwain said. “It’s taken us a couple of years to get to that point but we’ve done it.”
He said his company recently moved equipment into the area with AEP starting to remove power lines, which allow work to begin in the next month.
What they have staked out already is a Stripes Travel Center, which will be located in one corner of the intersection and will be the first new development to pop up while his company levels out the surrounding areas of land for construction.
“Hopefully the property will look like a tabletop when we get through and then we’ll begin staking the actual construction stakes,” McIlwain added. “We anticipate that we would have some lots ready for our builders in the second quarter of next year.”
He also said that Somerset Land Company has contracts with DR Horton Homes for 417 lots for residential builds, Perez Enterprises out of Alice for 54 lots and a contract for a 200-unit apartment complex.
“Then we’ve got a commercial real estate developer that’s going to put in an approximately 20,000 square foot strip center, and have six QSR (quick serve restaurants) that’s in the works as well,” he continued.
Somerset Land Company was developed by Charles E. (Chuck) Cammack and McIlwain to develop properties around the Port of Corpus Christi and other areas as the opportunities exist.
Back in January of this year, McIlwain said he came to be part of Sinton’s new residential development by accident. Three years ago, he was at commissioners court talking about another project when he was approached by a San Pat County resident who had about 12,050 acres of land she wanted to develop.
“I told her that I would be interested, but it would take a long time to get things moving forward,” McIlwain said. “She replied, ‘Well don’t worry about that, we have 17 heirs that each own an undivided interest and they live in places ranging from the state of Washington to Ecuador, so it’ll take a little bit of time to do it.’”
He added that during that time he had been working with Sinton City Manager John Hobson and Mayor Edward Adams about what to do with the unique property.
“A couple of years ago, when SDI made one of their first appearances, I was there and I talked with them after and I said I wish I could tell you that I was smart enough to buy this land knowing that (SDI) was coming in, but it was the luck of the draw. Just dumb luck,” McIlwain laughed.
McIlwain added that they plan on offering homes in the $185,000 to $225,000 price range and also have some ideas in place to reduce the price for new residents.
The company also has about 30 acres at the end of Pirate Boulevard where they will extend the roads off Elizabeth Street and build larger homes.
“We’ve been working on an affordable housing lending program through the Texas State Affordable Housing Commission that utilizes loans that can be provided to the first responders, teachers, veterans, all types of police and fire department personnel,” McIlwain added. “That will basically be zero down loans at below FHA rate and have real easy qualifying criteria for our first responders.”
At the time, McIlwain added that this is not a project that’s going to happen over one, two or five years; it’s a 20-year project and 1,300 acres is a lot of land. The development area also has more than 5 1/2 miles of highway on both sides going through the intersection which would work well for future growth.
“Sinton is poised to, probably more than any other small town in South Texas, really take advantage of the growth in the industry that we’ve had here,” McIlwain said. “All the ingredients are here to develop this and we look forward to doing it over the next few years.”
With these projects ready to kick off, it will only be a matter of time before more business comes to the area, changing Sinton’s landscape which has relatively stayed the same for decades.
“The whole area will change dramatically over the next 12 months and we’ve already got some plans to move forward across the street,” he said.
“There should be some major activity in the second half of next year.”