Restaurants, Retail Space Planned for Former Diversified Product Building in Downtown Waco | Local business news

Two flagship restaurants, a brewery and retailers can inhabit the former Diversified Product Development Building on 10th Street and Webster Avenue, recognizable by the 300-foot-long mural along its side facing 11th Street.

The seemingly prime location is blocks from the Magnolia Market at Silos, Discovery and the Balcones Distillery, but the mixed-use project will proceed with consideration of local preferences, said Josh Barrett, a partner at the company.

“We’ll have tourists in the mix, but we view what we do as quality concepts for locals,” Barrett said.

He has started pre-renting space in the 54,000 square foot venue and welcomes inquiries. Barrett’s name and that of local developer Shane Turner appear on the onsite marketing board, but another local group, WAGBOO Properties, is the driving force.

Barrett said WAGBOO purchased the building in October and is pursuing the final design and a floor plan. He said uses will be found for every square foot and the structure will be gutted and remodeled for occupants. Parking will materialize on the vacant lot between the building and South 11th Street.

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“There will be two anchor restaurants and a back bar. We are looking for a grocery store tenant,” Barrett said.

He said interior demolition has begun and the lenders expect completion in the first quarter of next year. He said no final decision has been made on whether to keep the building’s large mural in place. It was painted in 2019 and includes images referencing Waco’s history. Chesley Smith and Ira Watkins were the lead artists.

To be more specific at this point, Barrett said the building will house 14 to 18 commercial tenants, ranging in size from 458 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The two anchor restaurants will each occupy 4,400 to 5,100 square feet, while three smaller dining spaces will each cover approximately 250 square feet.

“We have four or five potential tenants currently lined up,” Barrett said.

He said his partners in WAGBOO Properties include Robert Owen and Mark Owen, who run the Waco office of Belfor Property Restoration; Taylor Allen of Rydell Real Estate; Brent Wilson and Michael Hillman, owners of Visiting Angels Home Care; and Ryan Gibson, real estate investor and developer.

“Two of the potential tenants are anchor restaurants,” Barrett said. “We also have a potential brewery tenant, a larger single retail tenant and some smaller boutique retail tenants.”

Access to the building should benefit from the recent reopening of a repaved Webster Avenue from 11th Street to 6th Street, across from Magnolia Market at the Silos. Infrastructure works have kept this area in poor condition for months. Workers and machinery became so concentrated that heavy equipment was parked on the green space outside the diverse building.

“Now it looks really nice,” Barrett said, referring to the few remaining machines and the new slick surface of Webster Avenue and street parking. He said it will provide convenient access to development.

WAGBOO purchased the 54,000 square foot building from businessman Ray Fritel, who founded Diversified Product Development in 1996. Diversified produces custom equipment for utilities across North America under its LineWise brand. As the town center evolved more towards commercial than industrial land use, Fritel purchased land near the Home Depot in Bellmead and relocated its business. His downtown address became available.

Developer Bill Wetterman has announced interest in the diverse space and a towering brick building next door, the late 19th century home of Geyser Ice Co.

Wetterman envisioned a place for lodging, dining, retail and entertainment.

But Wetterman’s plan never materialized. It still owns what’s left of the old icehouse, said Gregg Glime, a commercial realtor who listed the space alongside the train tracks along Jackson Avenue. Glime said Thursday he was no longer showing the property, but knew of two interested parties.

“It’s a great site. I hope to see something happen with it,” Glime said.

The diverse building has returned to availability, and the partnership that includes Barrett has picked it up, having big plans of its own.

David H. Henry