Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Folks on the Bus Get Look at the Westside

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Folks on the Bus Get Look at the Westside

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

Charlie Kelley has ridden his cross-breed horses on many of the Westside's back roads. But as he glanced out his tour bus window, he expressed pride in the changing face of the once-rural area.

"I knew that one of these days it would be a prime development spot once it was properly drained," he said.

"But even I was enlightened."

Kelley was among a busload of participants in a three-hour tour of the area Thursday sponsored by the Southwest Citizens Planning Advisory Committee and the Westside Business Leaders Association.

The event included a luncheon at Piccadilly Cafeteria with speakers discussing Civil War battles on the Westside and changes in the Westside's economy.

Thomas Waters, planner and coordinator for the Southwest District, narrated the 50-mile tour which showcased such growth hot spots as Argyle Forest, Branan Field-Chaffee Road, Bent Creek and the new equestrian center under construction at Cecil Commerce Center.

Waters said the tour was especially enlightening since construction of the Argyle Forest Boulevard extension connecting Old Middleburg Road to Branan Field-Chaffee opened up new areas of development.

"Argyle Forest used to dead-end at Shindler Drive and now you can go all the way around," Kelley said, as the bus headed west past such developments as Water Mill and Oakleaf Plantation.

Eventually, Argyle will connect with U.S. 301, Waters said.

The tour also hit older areas that are getting an economic boost. For example, a Lowe's Home Improvement Store and Garden Center is under construction at the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and Cassat Avenue.

Waters noted that Woolverton Olds-GMC Truck Corp. on Cassat closed in April 2002 because of declining sales resulting from General Motors Corp.'s decision to eventually stop making Oldsmobiles. …

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