The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

The student news site of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas

Valley Ventana

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Singing Hills area adding new stores, restaurants

Area to get Chipotle, Chick-fil-A
Alex Whelchel
The plot next to Ay Chiwawa has begun clearing in preparation for the Chipotle that is set to open later this year.

The Singing Hills area is set to see new development during the next two years with new restaurants and stores. 

New establishments will include Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Academy Sports.

“Fortunately, there are people that are in government now that have a vision and understand Texas is growing,” Paula Stakes, director of the Bulverde/Spring Branch Economic Foundation said. “It’s growing very fast, primarily our Bulverde/Spring Branch area.”

During the past 20 years, Singing Hills has gone from farmlands to an area with homes, apartments, stores and restaurants.

“(Residents) didn’t believe it would ever become what it is today,” Stakes said. “There wasn’t a vision. A community that doesn’t have a vision makes it really hard to be able to sustain a future and a legacy.”

Stakes wanted to bring the Singing Hills area to life.

She started by evaluating the area and discovered that more than $400 million in taxes was leaving the Spring Branch/Bulverde area and going to San Antonio.

“So through that, the (chamber of commerce) decided to start an economic development committee,” Stakes said. “After a couple of years of doing that, the committee came to realize it was going to be bigger than the chamber could handle in just a committee, so the Economic Development Foundation was founded.”

With a new foundation dedicated to economic development, the Singing Hills area began to see growth.

Now, the area will see continued growth with the addition of a Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Academy and an unnamed Mexican restaurant.

“I’m really excited that (these new restaurants) are coming,” senior Hannah Pape said. “I really like that I won’t have to drive 30 minutes because Chipotle and Chick-fil-A are my favorite restaurants.”

The Chick-fil-A will be on the lot in between the Jiffy Lube and Discount Tire. Chipotle will be in the lot next to Ay Chiwawa, and the Academy will be located next to Walmart. No location has been specified for the Panera Bread at this time.

“Academy came in and said,  ‘We want it to be open by next Christmas,'” Stakes said. “They’ll probably be open by Thanksgiving next year. Chipotle, I can guarantee, will be (open) within the next year. Chick-fil-A will probably be 18 months to two years.” 

The biggest challenge Stakes faces with the opening of these new businesses is finding employees to staff them.

“Since Popeyes has been out here, they have never had enough people working for them,” Stakes said. “These businesses are coming, and they’re not asking ‘Will you have a workforce for me?’”

To solve this issue, Stakes proposed building a tiny home community for veterans who want to re-enter the workforce. To make this happen though, she must find the land, investors and construction workers to build the homes.

“The veterans (won’t) have to pay for it,” she said. “They do have to meet strict criteria before we’re even going to put them in the program. We’ll build a tiny home through three or four different ways – CTE students, unemployed construction workers or construction company owners that have extra cash.”

Others believed there will be no issue in staffing new businesses.

“Since working at Chilis since 2022, we get a new batch of employees every four or so months,” senior Chilis employee Truman Davis said. “They are mostly new [people] from our area.”

Since the creation of the Economic Development Board, the Singing Hills area has transformed. 

“Bringing the right people together can make something that otherwise wouldn’t have been received very well come together very easily,” she said. “Communication and understanding make a lot of difference in whether or not a development can take place.”

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