Earth-colored with a stone facade, the 32-unit Emerald Cottages of Waco on Bagby Avenue are starting to fill after a sluggish start, as lessees from out-of-state are showing interest in the senior community next to the sprawling Central Texas Marketplace at West Loop 340 and Interstate 35.
The cottages spread across a mixed-use site dubbed Bagby Crossing, which has become a hotbed of development that includes a Hyatt Place hotel now under construction, two other hotels in the planning stage and commercial tenants including ZiZi PediSpa, a bakery chain called Smallcakes, Mattress One and a cycle-centric exercise venue called CycleBar.
Emerald Cottages will host an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday with beer and barbecue and tours of the premises, community director Ashley Karger said.
The cottages are available to people ages 55 and over who are still active, Karger said. Units feature hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and one-vehicle garages. The two-bedroom two-bathroom units are priced at $2,600 to $2,800 a month for 1,380 square feet, and 12 of the 32 are occupied, Karger said.
“I arrived in April, and interest really has picked up,” she said. “A lot of people apparently did not know we were here, but the area is getting more exposure. I’m getting regular calls, especially from out-of-towners. A couple from Arkansas is moving in this weekend.”
Near the cottages is Arbor House, a 64-unit memory care center, while a 120-unit skilled nursing center operates nearby, according to information provided by the Austin office of the Edge real estate firm marketing the site.
Heritage Hospitality Group, based in Mississippi, has acquired 5.6 acres along nearby Marketplace Drive, where they will place a 105-unit Residence Inn by Marriott and a 98-unit Tru by Hilton property. The property changed hands more than a year ago, in a deal brokered by real estate agent Jim Peevey, but site work has not started.
The proposed projects remain showcased on the Heritage Group website, and Peevey said he has heard nothing to suggest the buyers lost interest. Calls to Heritage Group on Thursday were not returned by late afternoon.
Ali Bhatti, vice president of development at Heritage Hospitality, told the Tribune-Herald in July last year the company was investing between $26 million and $28 million to buy the land and build the two hotels.
“I’ve not seen activity up there, and I need to see it,” Karger said with a laugh. “The company I work for still owns a couple of lots they would make available for commercial development. I would love to see a restaurant.”
Charlie Quisenberry, an agent with Edge Realty in Austin, said the Waco market continues to attract attention nationally, and the location next to Central Texas Marketplace is especially prime. He said two commercial prospects are eyeing the property, “but it’s too early to identify them.”
Karger said crews recently completed work on a community center to serve Emerald Cottages Waco, which is owned by Dallas-based Emerald Cottages Group. Emerald Cottages Group made land available for construction of the Hyatt Place hotel, which is scheduled to open next summer.
“That remains a quality site, near the hospital, Interstate 35, West Loop 340, Central Texas Marketplace and Legends Crossing,” Peevey said.
The marketplace is the area’s most concentrated set of national and regional businesses, Quisenberry said. I-35 generates plenty of traffic; 58,000 vehicles a day travel Highway 6; and 15,000 vehicles a day travel the stretch of Bagby Avenue near the development, he said.
Baylor Scott & White also recently opened a full-service clinic at Bagby Crossing.