The Hawkesdene mansion at 5305 Hillcrest Drive, once considered the largest house in McLennan County, is off the market.

Listed in the summer of 2017 for $6.4 million, the residence will remain in the hands of Jim and Nell Hawkins, who had it built between 2000 and 2004. The 17,000-square-foot home overlooking Lake Waco features seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, heated floors, gold-plated fixtures, a movie theater, wine closet, elevator, exercise room, seven fireplaces and a four-car garage, Nell Hawkins told the Tribune-Herald at the time of the listing.

“They’ve just decided to stay there,” listing agent Camille Johnson said.

The Hawkinses applied a stringent screening process for separating the serious from the curious, and she never set foot in the mansion with a prospect, Johnson said.

Hawkesdene was eclipsed in size locally by a 23,240-square-foot home, at 2412 Ridgewood Drive, also near Lake Waco, owned by Waco businessman Clifton Robinson.

Robinson, an insurance and real estate mogul who formerly owned the Tribune-Herald, bought the home while it was still under construction in 2013. Todd Behringer, founder of the Top Dollar Pawn chain of pawn shops, contracted to have the home built after selling his 41-store chain to Cash America for $102.5 million. Behringer, reportedly planning to leave Waco, approached Robinson about buying it.

Robinson did, and Behringer remains involved in several Waco-area development ventures with Shane and Cody Turner.

New Westrock Centre owner

Westrock Centre, the retail-and-dining center on Hewitt Drive, has been bought by Lisa Le, a local investor who reportedly wanted to add the space to her portfolio, Bentwood Realty agent Bryan Jenkins said.

Home to 135 Prime steakhouse, George’s Restaurant Bar and Catering and Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, Westrock Centre hit the market late last year with an asking price of $10.5 million. Jenkins represented the buyer, while Bland Cromwell, Brad Davis and Gregg Glime, all with Coldwell Banker Apex, represented the sellers.

The property has an 89 percent occupancy rate, and 2019 rents total $747,468, according to information provided by the agents.

“As a local investor, Ms. Le felt it was important to keep the relationships and resources in this area,” Jenkins wrote in an email response to questions. “She has many upgrades and improvements planned for the center in order to strengthen the profitability of the tenants’ business.”

Frank Cromwell and his Cromwell Management Co. will manage Westrock.

Jenkins said Le and Coldwell Banker’s Glime are close to landing four new tenants for the property, which is near H-E-B and Walmart store in the growing Hewitt-Woodway-West Waco corridor that includes U.S. Highway 84 and Hewitt Drive.

Jenkins did not reveal the final sales price.


Last week’s column incorrectly stated H-E-B had introduced H-E-B Go, a new app-powered self-checkout service, at four of its local stores.

Self-checkout is available at H-E-B stores in Woodway, Bellmead and in Waco on Wooded Acres Drive and on Valley Mills Drive, but the service is not app-driven.

Gas prices

Gas prices continue to soar locally, statewide and nationally.

AAA Texas, the auto club, released its weekly travel report Thursday, showing the price of regular unleaded had risen 9 cents, to $2.40 a gallon, during the previous week. That increase matched a national 9-cent jump, to $2.68, and the statewide 9-cent increase to $2.47, AAA reported.

Ironically, the oil-patch communities of Midland and Odessa are paying the highest gas prices in the state, $2.63 a gallon, while drivers in San Antonio are paying 30 cents less, the lowest in the state, according to AAA.

OPEC meets June 25 and 26, and members will vote on continuing to curtail production by about 1.2 million barrels per day, according to AAA.

Business roundup

  • Retailing giant JC Penney, which reportedly experienced a sluggish holiday sales season, has announced it will close 27 stores this year, including 18 full-line locations. No store in Texas made the published hit list.
  • The Cameron Park Zoo attracted 46,078 visitors between March 9 and March 24, spring break for much of Texas. Meanwhile, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce is sticking with its estimate that about 25,000 people attended the Texas Food Truck Showdown on March 16. Chamber special events director Amanda Haygood said this year’s crowd appeared lighter than last year’s, when the festival was packed right up until bad weather struck.

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