HUNTINGTON — A retail void dating back nearly a decade along a remote section of Interstate 84 soon could be filled.
A new truck stop, including restaurants and a convenience store but not a motel, is nearing completion at Farewell Bend, along the Snake River about 50 miles southeast of Baker City and about 4 miles from Huntington.
The Huntington Travel Plaza, part of the national TravelCenters of America network, could open as soon as Oct. 21, according to Deep Singh of Vancouver, Washington, whose family, along with three other business partners, plans to buy the business.
Tina Arundel, director of communications for TravelCenters of America in Westlake, Ohio, wrote in an email to the Baker City Herald that “we look forward to opening a TA travel center in Huntington, Oregon. We plan to open in late October.”
Singh said his family, which owns three gas stations in the Portland area as well as convenience stores, has been aware of the 40-acre property for a couple of years.
The former truck stop at Farewell Bend, which included a motel, closed in May 2011 and the buildings were later removed. The business had opened in the 1970s.
Huntington offers the only fuel and food on the 73-mile stretch of freeway between Baker City and Ontario.
Singh said he started talking in late spring this year with Amin Alibhei of Atlanta, who manages the company that owns the property, which is in Malheur County just south of the Baker County border.
The property sold in October 2019 for $775,000, according to the Malheur County Assessor’s Office. It previously sold, in June 2013, for $450,000.
Singh said his family and partners, which he didn’t name, will buy the property as soon as the truck stop is finished, and then operate the business.
He said the travel plaza will be his family’s biggest business venture. Singh said some of his partners have experience in running truck stops.
He said he believes it will be beneficial to be a franchise of TravelCenters of America.
“I think it’s very helpful to have a brand like TA,” Singh said. “That brand will help bring in customers for us.”
The Huntington Travel Plaza also will bring jobs to the area.
Singh said he hopes to eventually hire around 50 employees, once the entire project, including a truck repair shop, is open, which could happen within a year.
Initially, though, the 12,000-square-foot business will include a 3,000-square-foot convenience store, six fuel pumps for passenger cars and eight diesel lanes for commercial trucks, and two takeout restaurants, Champs Chicken and Naughty Chile Taqueria.
He said the convenience store, in addition to the usual fare of packaged foods and beverages, will have a frozen food section with ice cream.
The sign at the truck stop also lists Huntington Bar and Grill, but Singh said the dine-in restaurant and bar with video poker, won’t open immediately due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The truck stop will include a lounge and theater for commercial drivers, a barber shop, as well as showers and a laundry facility, Singh said.
He plans to add propane tanks as well, to cater to people with camp trailers staying at Farewell Bend State Park, less than a mile away.
Jennifer Peterson, city recorder in Huntington, population 445, said the potential for new jobs is exciting.
“It would be good if they could provide some jobs for people in town,” Peterson said.