Frisco-based Newcrest Image will place a 120-unit Holiday Inn Express in Legends Crossing, the 150-acre development at Interstate 35 and West Loop 340 that includes the new Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center and restaurants such as Chuy’s and Quaker Steak & Lube.

The new property will begin welcoming guests in July, only weeks before the new $260 million Baylor Stadium opens for play on the banks of Lake Brazos. It will operate on 3.6 acres right across Legend Lake Parkway from an 88-unit Homewood Suites by Hilton that opened in 2010.

When the hotel arrives, the mixed-use Crossing that features a small lake, fountains and a bridge will have as many hotels as restaurants.

Initial drawings of the site publicized in 2005 showed a dozen eateries around the water, and real estate agent Jimmy Banks has predicted the arrival of six to eight dining establishments.

“We thought the lots on the lake would sell first, and that has not happened,” said businessman John Cawthron, a member of the Legends Crossing investment group.

But in an interview Monday, he said the investors’ strategy for filling the site may have contributed to the tepid response among potential users.

“I think we already could have filled up the place with restaurants, but we prefer to sell the land and let you build,” he said. “Several wanted to enter into an agreement in which we would build, and they would lease from us. But that is not the approach we have taken.”

Cawthron said his group sold a tract of about 5 acres to a San Antonio-based group that struck a build-and-lease deal with Chuy’s.

Banks said Monday that six lots around the lake remain available. Homewood Suites took one, and a group of dentists took another but has yet to build on their 2.5 acres.

Cawthron calculated that 12.7 acres around the lake and about half a 15-acre site at the rear of Legends Crossing remain available.

Kary Lalani, vice president of Wichita Falls-based Lalani Lodging Inc. and Affiliates, manages the Homewood Suites lodging establishment that soon will have a competitor.

He indicated in an email response that his property is doing well and the new Baylor Stadium under construction could generate more business.

“Year to date, our occupancy is close to 82 percent, significantly higher than both the state and city averages,” he wrote. “I am very pleased with the overall performance of our property. Last I checked, we were the market leader in most every performance metric that hotels measure.”

He added, “Would definitely like to see more restaurants or retailers in Legends Crossing. I think it is a matter of time before we see more activity — credit markets have started to thaw out, and there is a significant amount of capital on the sidelines that is being allocated to commercial real estate.”

Whether that translates directly to more deals in Legends Crossing, he said, “We’ll have to wait and see.”

Liz Taylor, who directs the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she is not surprised that Legends Crossing has attracted another hotel.

“It’s near Hillcrest hospital and Central Texas Marketplace, which is getting a new Cabela’s, and Richland Mall is not far away. All of those are traffic generators,” she said. “And on those occasions when Baylor is playing at home in that new stadium, I’m sure it will be an attractive destination.”

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Legends Crossing occupants

Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center

Waco Nissan

Chuy’s

Quaker Steak and Lube

Incommons Bank

Homewood Suites by Hilton

Prospects under contract

Holiday Inn Express

Dental office building

Acute care clinic

Source: John Cawthron, Legends Crossing Waco Development LP

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