September 12, 2016 Comments Closed

Historic Austin Avenue building hits the market

Posted by:Adam Voight onSeptember 12, 2016

Original article by Mike Copeland of wacotrib.com

A historic building on Austin Avenue in downtown Waco, which has been abuzz with development in recent years, has hit the market priced at $1.1 million.

The current occupant, Pura Vida Day Spa and Salon, will relocate by year’s end to a site nearer to the edge of the central city and Baylor University.

The two-story, 9,900-square-foot structure at 708-710 Austin Ave. has become a listing of real estate agent Brad Harrell, who has prepared a brochure touting the building and its presence on a street where investors have spent nearly $700 million converting eyesores into loft apartments, restaurants and retail establishments.

Erin Kubala owns and operates Pura Vida, and her sister, Traci Plemons, owns the building it occupies.

Kubala said the two decided to take advantage of the bullish demand for real estate on Austin Avenue and to pursue a buyer for a place that has been renovated from top to bottom at a cost of about a half-million dollars.

“The upstairs was in terrible shape, not even structurally sound,” Kubala said. “But it’s a neat old building, whose historic look we tried to preserve.”

Downtown developers Shane and Cody Turner, and their Kunkel Construction, completed the upgrades to what became the home of Pura Vida.

Kubala said she operated a one-person styling salon at one time, but has seen her staff grow to 22 positions and occupy much of the available space at 708-710 Austin Ave. She also owns the upscale Melange Boutique at that address, and will relocate it to join Pura Vida at a new address she would not disclose.

“I really don’t want to say anything until I sign all the documents, but it is not far from where we are now, though not on Austin Avenue,” she said.

She said her new home will afford more on-site parking, which has become a factor she must address as business has grown.

Harrell said the building Pura Vida is leaving, built in 1930, “has been redone from floor to floor and is an absolutely beautiful building for downtown Waco.”

A sprinkler system has been installed, and an elevator carries traffic between the first and second stories.

“I think it could make a very nice law office or retail establishment, and the second floor would make a living area,” Harrell said.

Megan Henderson, executive director of the downtown revitalization group called Center City Waco, said she sees the building providing an array of opportunities.

“I could see the downstairs space being reconfigured into kind of a larger, more open floor plan for a retailer or a restaurant, whereas the present configuration might lend itself more to offices,” she said. “I also could see a cluster of smaller retailers sharing a corridor, which is a model that has worked in other cities.”

Creating space for a collection of small retailers, she said, “could provide a jumping-off point for people getting started who don’t need a lot of space.”

She said she continues to hear from prospects interested in locating downtown, and from the public suggesting uses of downtown space.

“I’ve heard the new Hey Sugar! candy store on Austin Avenue is doing well, and I’ve heard we need more opportunities to take kids and do fun stuff downtown,” Henderson said. “We don’t have a great business district by having one of everything, and I’m not sure we yet have one of everything.

“I’m hearing we need more variety in our food and entertainment options, and that the going concerns we have now could anchor uses of that kind.”

Harrell said the Pura Vida building has four on-site parking spaces, but he thinks there is ample public parking in the area to support commerce there.

“I don’t believe parking is the reason they are choosing to sell; it’s a case of this being the optimum market in which to sell,” Harrell said.

He said his marketing brochure includes an aerial photograph of the site, with public parking areas outlined.

Harrell said he will use “heavy internet marketing” to create interest in the building.

“I know of people looking at downtown hard,” he said.

He said Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market at the Silos, though not on Austin Avenue, continues to create interest in Waco’s inner city.

“In this crazy market, it could very easily be sold quickly,” said Harrell, who nonetheless did not want to predict when a deal would be consummated.

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