Construction of a La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries store is drawing to a close at Central Texas Marketplace, next door to the building that once housed the infamous Twin Peaks restaurant where gunfire erupted May 17, leaving nine bikers dead.
It reportedly will host a grand opening Aug. 29, with a soft opening planned the day before.
La-Z-Boy no longer touts itself as a place strictly to buy recliners. Its stores offer a full line of furniture and household furnishings such as lamps and rugs. The company’s TV ads, featuring actress Brooke Shields, aim to spruce up the company’s image by focusing on other types of furniture, such as sofas and tables.
At 15,000 square feet, Waco’s La-Z-Boy store represents what has been the chain’s typical size for decades.
But The Wall Street Journal, in a recent report, noted the Michigan-based retailer is experimenting with 5,000-square-foot stores in some urban areas.
Dallas-based Lebco Industries, a licensee of La-Z-Boy, is building the store in Waco.
It turned to Messer Group Texas Inc. to erect the structure, which is the 15th La-Z-Boy location Lebco Industries will own and operate in Texas.
“I have built several for these people and hope to build some more,” Tom Messer said by phone.
He said the shootout at Twin Peaks and the media and law enforcement attention that followed have not hampered construction “except for the three days that almost the entire center was shut down, including our job site.”
He said inclement weather has proved more of an obstacle, eliminating 80 workdays.
Messer said his crews “are working diligently to have the building ready to stock by Aug. 18.”
A spokesman for Lebco Industries, who said he did not want to be named because he is one of several people involved in the company, said it operates other La-Z-Boy locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Houston areas.
“We’re excited to be coming to Waco and have begun the process of hiring for the store,” he said.
La-Z-Boy on Wednesday hosted a job fair at Hampton Inn & Suites Waco South near Central Texas Marketplace.
Alina Ciovanu, who oversees human resources for Lebco Industries, said by phone that eight people attended the fair.
The company reportedly intends to fill 10 management and sales positions.
La-Z-Boy in Waco will do business next to a 7,680-square-foot structure whose future remains cloudy. All signs have been removed that would identify it as the former home of Twin Peaks, but many local residents still remember what happened there.
Local real estate agents are divided on whether the building still has marketability as is or should be leveled to remove any stain it might cause for that location within Central Texas Marketplace.
“I think it’s hard to assign blame to a building,” said Randy Reid at The Reid Co. “Given a little bit of time, and by that I mean six months to a couple of years, I think memories of what happened will fade, and I can see using that building.”
But commercial real estate specialist Brad Davis said, “It will have to be totally razed because it won’t get over the stigma.”
Store Master Funding VI LLC, the Scottsdale, Arizona-based owner of the building, has declined comment on its plans. No real estate listings are posted outside the structure, and ownership has not secured a demolition permit from the city of Waco.
The Lebco Industries spokesman did not want to comment on La-Z-Boy’s proximity to the former Twin Peaks establishment.
But he did let it be known he would like to know its fate, if and when that information becomes available.
La-Z-Boy will become the second furniture store to open this year in the marketplace, the other being Haverty’s. It is located within a stretch of stores between Cabela’s and Best Buy that law enforcement cordoned off after the shootout May 17.
The stores were labeled a crime scene because of their proximity to Twin Peaks and the Don Carlos Mexican restaurant, from which many diners had a clear view of the violence that unfolded around lunchtime that Sunday.