Interior demolition has started on the longtime sports bar at Eighth Street and Franklin Avenue, where developer Shane Turner visualizes a culinary haven called “Union Hall,” an 18,000-square-foot space welcoming visitors to sample an array of food and beverage offerings under one roof.
Turner said the hall will give operators of food trucks “an opportunity to transition to a food hall, and give out-of-town business owners the chance to test their concepts locally.” He said he hopes to turn the space over to tenants for interior finish-out by late summer or early fall.
Turner said he has commitments from more than 15 potential users, most from Central Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He said his lineup does not include a national chain, though he is not necessarily opposed to offering space to a popular brand. His focus is local and regional talent.
“There will be a mix of vendors open morning until night,” he said. “That was a piece of advice offered by our consultant, Studio H2G in Michigan, that we take steps to ensure traffic is circulating throughout the day.”
Union Hall will feature users that have a “food feature” but may not fit the description of a restaurant, said Jonathan Garza, who is marketing the site for Turner’s Lucra Real Estate. He said the mix may include juice bars, coffee stands or “grab-and-go” kiosks for eating on the run. Some may offer entertainment with a food component, Garza said.
The hall will accommodate 400 diners, including patio space, and provide vendors with a walk-in cooler, prep kitchen and dishwashing capabilities. As for specific lease rates, “give me a call,” Turner said, suggesting a willingness to negotiate. The lease would cover the cost of utilities, maintenance, taxes, cleaning and marketing, Garza has told the Tribune-Herald.
Turner said he visited “every food hall in New York,” and traveled to Los Angeles and Denver, pursuing his vision for Union Hall. Input from Studio H2G included discussion of food hall design in the ancient Italian cities of Rome, Milan and Venice, he said.
He said Union Hall will have a bar, “and we are considering several bar concepts, though we have not yet chosen one.”
Parking will be available east of the Union Hall site, near where the former Waco Labor Temple has become home to Waco Running Company, all part of the Franklin Square project of Turner and businessman Todd Behringer.
“We have one retail space left, about 1,100 square feet,” Turner said of Franklin Square.