Score a win for urban grit.
A downtown review committee said Friday that HGTV “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines shouldn’t have to repaint the giant, rusting silos that tower above the market complex they are creating at 601 Webster Ave.
A committee of the Waco Downtown Development Corp. recommended that the Waco City Council move forward with $208,376 in tax incentives for the Magnolia Market project without the paint job city staff had requested. The council will make its decision Nov. 18.
Chip Gaines had argued to the downtown Tax Increment Financing Zone board last month that the silos “are impeccable and fashionable and interesting as they are,” paint flakes and all.
The Gaineses are known for their “shabby chic” interior décor on the homes they renovate on national television.
TIF board members approved the incentives conditionally, punting the aesthetic question back to the DDC, which scores projects based on their compliance with the Imagine Waco Plan for Greater Downtown. The DDC had given the project a high score before the October TIF meeting, but with the understanding that the silos would be painted.
DDC chairman Willard Still went into the meeting Friday with some doubts about the idea of unpainted silos.
After about an hour of discussion with the Gaineses, Still said he and other board members felt comfortable that improvements to the rest of the former Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Co. complex would result in an attractive development.
“We believe their plan will be a substantial improvement that the community will embrace,” Still said. “They have a very sensible plan, and we embraced it.
“I have to give credit to Joanna Gaines. She has good taste, and that’s a proven product.”
Improvements will include a wrought-iron fence around the block-sized property, as well as an entertainment stage and a repainted and refurbished warehouse area where the monthly market will be held. The rest of the time, fans of the TV show will be able to visit a large showroom to buy souvenirs and furnishings and sample from a food truck court.
Work will begin this month on the project, and the market is due to open in spring 2015, Chip Gaines said.
The Gaineses are wrapping up filming of Season 2 of “Fixer Upper,” which airs starting in mid-January. Chip Gaines said he hopes Season 3 will chronicle the renovation of Magnolia Market.
After the DDC’s decision Friday afternoon, Chip and Joanna Gaines celebrated the beginning of the Magnolia Market renovation on camera by climbing atop the silos and christening them with a bottle of Dr Pepper, the Waco-born beverage.
“With the sun setting and Baylor in the background, it was a real touching moment,” Chip Gaines said. “We really felt like we were on top of the world.”
Gaines said he felt the DDC board listened with an open mind.
“Our whole object is their object, which is to make this as beautiful as we can,” he said. “I think the unpainted silos represent what we are and what Waco is. They’re a part of the history of Waco. . . . Jo basically said it epitomizes our style. We want new things like everyone but we’re very passionate about preserving and restoring historical elements. The silos have a real farm-industrial feeling.”
Gaines said he hopes ultimately to renovate the silos for some kind of use, and that would probably involve painting them.