|August 5, 2017||Comments Closed|
The former Cornerstone Plumbing building at South Eighth Street and Jackson Avenue will become the roost for a “hot-chicken” restaurant and possibly a half-dozen retail shops under the guidance of two local entrepreneurs who recently acquired the 9,700-square-foot structure.
Businessman Blake Batson, who owns the Common Grounds coffee shop and Heritage Creamery ice cream store on the Baylor University campus, has joined forces with Waco attorney Chris Clark to create Jackson Station, so named because it will operate near downtown railroad tracks.
“We hope to offer a diverse retail and dining experience, and we’re already attracting interest from potential tenants,” said Batson, adding plans now call for an eatery serving hot chicken and sides — a concept popularized most recently in Nashville, Tennessee — to anchor the station.
Jackson Station also will feature a 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot patio that affords customers a view of Magnolia Market at the Silos, the popular attraction founded by “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines at South Sixth Street and Webster Avenue that attracts thousands daily.
“We’re hoping to keep the industrial feel of the building, which we acquired in June,” Batson said. “We’re not going to make changes to the point it really looks like a train station, but we will install industrial overhead garage doors, demolish all the interior walls to create open space, and take out some of ceiling sheets to expose the roof.”
The team has chosen Mitchell Construction to renovate the building, which was listed at $495,000 and only briefly remained on the market, said Clark, adding he and Batson hope to unveil Jackson Station early in 2018.
Clark, 29, who oversees strategic initiatives for the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University, said he works out of an office downtown and regularly walks to Magnolia Market at the Silos to buy lunch from food trucks.
“There is so much energy being generated in the downtown corridor that includes Magnolia, The Findery, Mary Avenue Market and plans for the Containery, another planned development,” said Clark. “There is a tremendous amount of foot traffic, and we hope to capture part of it.”
The team will apply for Tax Increment Financing Zone money, Batson said, and hopes to make a formal request to the TIF board in September. Kenny Stevens with the Reid-Peevey real estate company is pursuing prospects.
“As a consumer myself, I’ve noticed downtown is full of boutiques that cater to women. I think we should flip that and maybe have a men’s provisional store,” Clark said. “We’re always interested in having more local restaurants, and if another restaurant called us up and expressed a desire to join Jackson Station, we certainly would listen.”
Batson, 31, a Baylor University graduate, said the inner city is going through a transformation he never imagined living in the area.
“We never went downtown when I was growing up in Hewitt and Lorena. I never even saw it until I was in college. There was no need to,” he said. “But now it’s a fun place with a new wave of excitement and energy.”
He said not only are commercial ventures taking shape, but residential projects are bringing students and young professionals to downtown. Examples, Batson said, include the Tinsley Place townhomes based at 715 Cleveland Ave. and the West Campus Lofts on South Eighth Street.
The announcement of Jackson Station came the same week the Waco City Council heard proposals for development around Heritage Square near Waco City Hall and the Waco Convention Center.
A proposal by The Civic Center proposes 550,000 square feet of Class A office space, 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 1,200-space underground parking garage. A second, by 300 Clay Avenue LLC, envisions an upscale grocery store, 33,000 square feet of office space, a designated area for food trucks, solar panels for energy creation, rooftop dining, chef-operated restaurants and a covered gathering place.
The Waco City Council applauded both proposals, and now will receive public input before announcing its preference.
Meanwhile, Waco businessman John Humphries confirmed last week he has acquired the historic Geyser Ice House building at South Ninth Street and Webster Avenue and will transform it into space for a boutique hotel, restaurant and live entertainment venue.