Bunny McLeod, a Dallas- and Houston-based real estate agent who has been involved in attracting tenants to Central Texas Marketplace for several years, now has the listing for the shopping center’s infamous Twin Peaks building, where a May 17 bloody shootout between rival motorcycle gangs and law enforcement left nine bikers dead.
The tragic incident has continued to create controversy.
Some local real estate agents have suggested the 7,869-square-foot structure now bears such a stigma and is associated with such a brutal day in Waco history that it must fall to the wrecking ball. They say no would-be user would want their product or brand name associated with it.
Others have said it remains a quality building in an increasingly popular shopping center, and that some retailer or restaurant would take a chance on it.
But the marketing of the site, located between the Don Carlos Mexican restaurant and a La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings and Decor store in the shopping center at West Loop 340 and Interstate 35, now rests with McLeod, who works for Princeton Properties and Houston-based Wulfe & Co., both national commercial real estate specialists.
McLeod, in phone interviews and email messages, has been tight-lipped about her plans for the building and her marketing approach. She even has declined to quote a sales or lease price for the building, suggesting only that securing a good fit is more important than landing a user willing to meet the original $4.2 million asking price.
The Twin Peaks structure first was listed by Dallas-based Greg Blandford, with Position Property Group, who confirmed his involvement in the building in September via an email to Pat Farrar, a local real estate agent with The Reid Co. who said he had worked with Blandford on marketing a handful of properties.
In that message to Farrar, Blandford placed the sales price for the building, which includes an 1,800-square-foot patio, at that $4.2 million figure. It could be leased for $350,000 a year plus the cost of insurance and taxes. The message asked Farrar to keep Blandford apprised of any lookers.
Farrar said he has never received an inquiry about the Twin Peaks building.
In September, when the structure first hit the market, Farrar did express concerns about the price but otherwise said it had potential.
“It’s a unique-looking building, and there will be some cost involved in converting it to something else,” he said.
He described Central Texas Marketplace as a “good site,” and said he was not buying into worries about a stigma attaching itself to the building, which has seen all Twin Peaks-related signage removed and has been wrapped in plastic to hinder access to the interior.
The building itself may not carry any visual reminders of that violent Sunday in May, but someone has placed a small shrine next to a leafless hackberry tree nearby. It contains a photograph, small skulls painted yellow, a cluster of plastic yellow roses, a sign with the letters “RIP” and a decorative chain linking the skulls.
McLeod said she will not place any notices on the property indicating its availability or her status as listing agent.
In response to an email, she wrote simply, “Other than receiving positive interest because Central Texas Marketplace has strong retail sales performance and continues to attract better retailers and restaurants, I have no additional comment at this time.”
At the time of the shootout involving law enforcement and bikers, a new retailing arm of the center was taking shape between Cabela’s and Office Depot that included a Cavender’s Boot City superstore, Haverty’s Furniture, Cost Plus/World Market, Five Below and Designer Shoe Warehouse.
‘The right fit’
During a brief phone interview, which McLeod cut short because she was traveling, she said, “So far, I have had no real objections to the building itself, not a lot of pushback. I simply want to find a really good tenant, just the right fit. But you never really know who the tenant is going to be.”
She said a prospect could use the existing building, “or it may change architecturally, you never know.”
McLeod described Waco, especially Central Texas Marketplace, as an attractive, active market on which she receives a substantial number of calls.
“I sold a lot of pads there at the marketplace in earlier years, including those for Ann Taylor Loft and Chico’s,” she said. “The center does so well, has seen an increase in sales, and that is what’s important to me. I’m sure the owner would love to get $4.2 million, but bringing in the right tenant is the way we’re going about filling it.”
A sales price of $4.2 million reflects $533 per square foot, while a lease rate of $350,000 comes to $44 per square foot.
“That definitely would be a record (for Waco) if it sold for anywhere close to that figure. It probably would be a record for Dallas, Texas, too,” said commercial real estate agent Josh Carter, with Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors, commenting on the listed price first announced by Position Property Group’s Blandford.
Houston-based Wulfe & Co., for which McLeod serves as a senior vice president, says on its website that it was founded in 1985, has become one of Houston’s premier commercial and retail real estate firms, and has gained a reputation as the “go-to firm to tackle the difficult and complex details.”
It is responsible for leasing and managing nearly 6 million square feet of commercial real estate. And though its primary focus is Houston and the surrounding area, according to its website, “we have represented numerous tenants, developers, corporate and individual property owners and investors in over 40 states throughout the nation.”
Twin Peaks management
Meanwhile, Twin Peaks Holdings, parent of the 68-unit Twin Peaks restaurant chain, is shaking up management in the wake of the violence in Waco. Industry veteran Starlette Johnson, who had been serving as a consultant to Twin Peaks since January of last year, has been named CEO. She succeeds company founder Randy DeWitt, who reportedly will work on other restaurant ventures for Front Burner Restaurants LP, which is the corporate parent of Twin Peaks Holdings.
Johnson previously was employed by Dallas-based Brinker International, parent of the Chili’s chain. She also serves on the board of directors of Austin-based Chuy’s Inc., and for a time served as president and CEO of Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s, a big-box entertainment and restaurant chain.