An aging building at 319 S. Fourth St. will become a haven for restaurants, retail shops and living units as it grows in size with the addition of steel shipping containers in the next few months.
Using such containers has become a trendy approach to creating space, and they will play a major role in transforming the decades-old Wetterman Building into The Containery, which will have 25,000 square feet of lease space when it opens in the fall, said Gregg Glime, a local real estate agent pursuing tenants.
“I see having six to 10 choices for food vendors, a common area and several retailers,” Glime said. “We could have barbecue, wood-fired pizza, sandwiches and more, as well as clothing and jewelry stores. Each unit could be customized.”
Angie Baccus, who for nine years has owned and operated Simply Delicious Bakery, 200 Commerce St., confirmed Friday she has committed to opening a second location in The Containery.
“I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to be a destination place in Waco, unlike any shopping center we have,” Baccus said. “People will visit Magnolia Market at the Silos, Spice Village and The Containery. The container concept will make it unique.”
She said she knows brothers Bill and Greg Wetterman, developers of The Containery, and has discussed the venture for months.
“We’ve gone over plans and drawings, discussed what would work and wouldn’t work,” she said. “He’s reaching out to local vendors, not looking at chains, and he’s offering affordable rates.”
Baccus said she has been encouraged on several occasions to open a second location downtown but refused until now.
Megan Henderson, executive director of City Center Waco, said she has seen plans for The Containery and can’t wait to see the containers surrounding and stacked on top of the building on the same block as Waco’s famous Dr Pepper Museum.
“The first time anybody hears about this trend, they are going to be almost incredulous,” Henderson said. “But it is a construction technique employed around the world for lots of different projects.”
The March 15 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine includes a story with the headline, “45 Great Homes and Offices Built With Shipping Containers.”
The use of containers aside, Henderson said placing a “micro-retail center and food hall between the river district and the Magnolia Silos district is a no-brainer. It’s a great idea. But the containers make it more interesting, creates a buzz in and of itself.”
She said the plans she saw featured a deck on the second floor and common areas where patrons can relax between visits to what Glime said may total more than 50 leased spaces.
Henderson said crews will place the containers in such a way they will not compete with the historic Dr Pepper building for attention.
“The juxtaposition will be interesting but not jarring,” she said.
The Wettermans could not be reached for comment. Glime said they are keeping a low profile until the project gets further along.
As word of The Containery started to circulate this week, Glime said Thursday he had received two dozen calls from interested parties, a sizable percentage of whom discussed signing a lease.
Promotional material says, “The property is perfect for many different food concepts — pizza, burgers, ice cream, BBQ, wine, beer, rooftop bar. It also would accommodate clothiers, jewelry, a salon, bakery, art and fashion. There is even third- and fourth-story office space overlooking downtown Waco, Magnolia Silos and more.”
The material says retail space is available for $31.86 to $48.75 per square foot per year, while 320 square feet of container space is available for $1,200 a month.