JACKSONVILLE -

New restaurants and businesses are quickly popping up on Western Boulevard.

"It's exciting, these are the kind of things that cities try to encourage," said Jacksonville Deputy City Manager Ron Massey.

Carolina Ale House, located at 1649 Western Boulevard, and Cheddar’s Casual Cafe, at 2007 Western Boulevard, celebrated their grand openings in July.  Coming in the next few months, not far from those restaurants, is Buffalo Wild Wings, Carmike Cinemas and Kohl's Department Store.

Massey said the initial building boom in Jacksonville was the result of the Marine Corps expanding its forces in 2007.  That expansion caused a residential housing boom.

"Usually after you see a growth in housing, then as your population increases, you start to see a growth in commercial activity," said Massey.

Massey says the bottom line is businesses are attracted to Jacksonville.

According to Massey, a new NC Department of Transportation project should help alleviate the increase in traffic anticipated by the new construction.  The Jacksonville Parkway will allow drivers to bypass the intersection of Highway 17 and Western Boulevard, one of the busiest in the city.

"Traffic should move a little bit better on Western even with all these new businesses here," said Massey.

Small businesses owners are also remaining optimistic about the new construction.

Jeff Bender, owner of Jeff's Burgers, Dogs and Shakes, says business has remained steady over the past decade.  Bender has not noticed a drop in customers as a result of the new restaurant chains.

Bender says many customers are regulars. "I think my customers are more like friends, as when you're there, you are just a number.  You're waiting for a pad to vibrate to get in."

Ron Massey says two new hotels are also coming to Western Boulevard - a Hampton Inn and a Hilton Gardens.