Water Works building

The owner of the Water Works says the historic building is now under contract.

Options abound for the sturdy but well-aged Marlow Furniture building at 1725 Washington Ave., owned by Betsy Ferguson and now on the market.

Ferguson founded The Mix Cafe and Gifts, which operates at 1700 South Fifth St., surrounded by Baylor University. It serves healthy dishes, “but not too healthy,” Ferguson said. The menu includes soups, sandwiches, salads, grilled vegetables, pulled-pork sandwiches with a swig of Dr Pepper for seasoning, breakfast wraps and desserts.

Ferguson bought the 5,700-square-foot Marlow Furniture place in January, with designs on a remodel and a larger venue for The Mix Cafe. Her plans include exposing the ceiling beams and the tin ceiling. Already crews have applied a new roof and made headway on plumbing upgrades, said Josh Carter, a real estate agent now marketing the site.

Ferguson said she has not abandoned her vision for a restaurant in the dynamic neighborhood on the edge of downtown, but she is entertaining offers, with Carter taking the calls.

“I don’t want to sound wishy-washy, but I am open to selling,” she said.

Carter, meanwhile, said he is encountering keen interest in the property.

Originally priced at $575,000, the property’s evolving condition because remodeling has prompted Carter and Ferguson to recalibrate.

“Just this week, we discussed the matter,” Carter said Friday. “I would say the asking price would be closer to $675,000 going forward.”

Water Works building

The intriguing former home of The Water Works restaurant at 100 Mill St. still sits vacant along the Brazos River, near neighborhoods where new development has become a daily occurrence.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was a lively restaurant, nightclub and comedy club under the direction of chef Geoffrey Michael. It is difficult to describe the popularity of the place. It was always packed. With help from the success of his dishes there, Michael became a local celebrity, appearing on TV-sponsored cooking shows and introducing his own line of spices that are still available. Popular bands played. Stand-up comics held court. Visitors could hop aboard a huge swing hung from the ceiling.

A post last year on the Waco, Texas: That’s My Hometown Facebook page devotes space to The Water Works and its appeal. One response includes a woman’s recollection that on her 30th birthday “they had a fiddler there and late in the evening they let us push back tables and dance.”

Sounds like The Water Works many locals came to know and love.

A 2015 Tribune-Herald story about endangered historical buildings in Waco states the rambling 7,000-square-foot structure with “ornate windows and cornices” served as a pump station for Bell Water Co., which “punched wells” to the nearby Brazos, before the city of Waco bought it in 1904.

Now there it sits, forlorn, as a resurgence in development in Waco has so far passed it by.

But there is hope. Co-owner Gloria Young, a local philanthropist and civic leader whose husband, the late F.M. Young, built riverboats for use on the Brazos, said Friday she has placed the building under contract.

She said she could not breathe a word about the potential buyer, lessee or user but might be in a position to discuss the matter in a couple of weeks.

Tool Thrift Shop

Friends for Life, a local charity devoted to improving the lives of the elderly and disabled, has announced it will open Tool Thrift Shop. It will occupy space at 430 Lake Air Drive and sell wrenches, pliers, saws, levels and whatever other donated tools show up. Proceeds will support Friends For Life’s cause.

Organizers are welcoming tool donations, volunteers and help spreading the word. More information is available by emailing tools@friendsforlife.org or calling 772-8100, ext. 110.

Hour Economy event

Planned development in East Waco, including along Elm Avenue, will be discussed during an Hour Economy event at noon Friday in the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce headquarters, Third Street and Franklin Avenue.

Waco Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Jackson Barefield and Megan Henderson, executive director of City Center Waco, will share information “about Elm Avenue as the next destination for investment growth, the importance of community development groups, and the impacts of revitalization upon long-term residents of this culturally rich neighborhood,” according to a press release.

Hour Economy is a quarterly program of the Waco chamber. Seating is limited. Lunch costs $15. Registration is available on the chamber website.

To ask questions, call chamber economic development coordinator Debbie McCutchen at 757-5636.

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