Central Texas Iron Works (copy)

An employee smooths out welds with a grinder at the Central Texas Iron Works facility. The company is working on 12 contracts to provide steel for petrochemical plants along the Gulf Coast.

Shane Turner and Todd Behringer, partners in several downtown Waco ventures, are taking their talents elsewhere, but they are not leaving town.

The Turner-Behringer team has developed more than 200,000 square feet of commercial and residential space, including Tinsley Square, Altura Luxury Lofts, and The Lofts at Franklin Square. They also have masterminded UParks Village, West Bay and Union Hall, all retail and dining locales.

To achieve more, in Temple, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and elsewhere, they announced Friday they have created Turner Behringer Holdings. It will serve as the parent company Turner Behringer Real Estate, Turner Behringer Property Management and Turner Behringer Development, according to a press release. These entities will absorb Lucra Real Estate and Kunkel Construction.

At the helm will be brothers Shane and Cody Turner and Behringer, all Baylor University graduates. Their headquarters will be the newly renovated former First Federal Savings & Loan building at 1224 Austin Ave.

During an interview Friday, Shane Turner and Turner-Behringer colleagues Clay Fuller and Jonathan Garza gave updates on several projects:

Applying lessons learned remodeling Waco Hippodrome Theatre, the team will tackle a formidable task in Temple, where the crumbling Hawn Hotel, the adjoining Arcadia Theatre and a former Sears building need help.

Another 80-plus lots in Hewitt’s Moonlight Park subdivision should welcome homebuilders this year, doubling the number of homes now available. Turner said there could eventually be home construction on 256 lots. The development will boast 2,000-square-foot homes on oversize lots priced in the low $300,000s.

Negotiations continue with “three or four” restaurant or retail tenants at West Bay, the center near 10th Street and Cleveland Avenue, already home to MOD Pizza. A La Quinta Del Sol has opened nearby.

A growing number of black-and-gold Turner Behringer Real Estate signs are popping up around Greater Waco, including at Wooded Acres Drive and Bosque Boulevard — home to Lake Air Mall, Lake Air Court and Target — where the team is listing several units.

Pei Wei

Pei Wei Asian Diner apparently is on the road to recovery, having aced a recent pop-in quiz by the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

Last June, as readers may recall, Pei Wei was shut down by inspectors who found myriad violations during a lunchtime visit. It reopened a couple of days later, as management all-stars from throughout the Pei Wei system reportedly traveled to Waco to clean up the local restaurant’s act.

Fast forward to Thursday before last, Feb. 21, when Pei Wei received a score of zero, which is great. The lower the number the better, according to the health department’s rating system. David Litke, who oversees environmental health for the department, said the Feb. 21 visit was a followup from three days earlier, when Pei Wei received its annual inspection to maintain its food handlers’ license. Inspectors reported no major problems on the first visit but assigned 11 demerits for minor infractions, among them failure to place handwashing soap as close to the food-prep area as required, Litke said.

But he said Pei Wei has improved from last summer.

David Franklin, who identified himself as general manager of Waco’s Pei Wei, said in a Feb. 23 email that the restaurant has been “firmly in my hands” the past two months.

“I wanted to let you and your readers know that since I’ve taken over we had a health inspection that resulted in a 100 percent pass,” Franklin wrote. “I understand that Waco has lost a lot of trust in this store, but I believe that with myself and my new team, this store is ready to satisfy Waco’s hunger once again.” The message was dated Feb. 23.

Kitok work

A recent visit to Kitok, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on North 18th Street, proved enlightening. Recent drives by the place had revealed work crews on the roof and groundwork near the front entrance. News had circulated that the place, a Waco tradition since 1975 known for its “liplocker” meals, oriental fries, house-recipe soy sauce and Asian hospitality, faced financial challenges.

Indeed, proprietor Kyong Dehnert said a chronically leaky roof had been repaired, the foundation had been leveled, and other minor repairs had been tackled in recent months. She said the tab had climbed to $18,000, and more work remained, specifically treatment for the buckling, bulging, moisture-damaged wall paneling. Still, business had remained steady.

In late December, friends and regular Kitok customers started contributing to a GoFundMe account launched to ease the financial burden.

As for the groundwork, tiny wooden fencing and strips of plastic near the entryway, Dehnert said her husband, Michael, is preparing to plant a garden that will add spice and flavor to Kitok dishes. She said she and Michael, from Cincinnati, Ohio, bought Kitok from the previous owners in January 2018. Dehnert said she was employed at Kitok several years, so she is aware of its place and popularity in Waco’s restaurant scene.

Central Texas Iron Works

Waco-based Central Texas Iron Works is reaping rewards from the buildup of petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast, executive Curtis Cleveland said.

Cleveland, who years ago served as an industry recruiter for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said Central Texas Iron Works has landed a dozen contracts to provide steel for coastal projects. He said he could not name the companies involved, having signed a confidentiality agreement companies now demand.

“I’m sure it is for competitive reasons,” Cleveland said.

The company employs about 185, including dozens of welders and fitters, but wants 200 on the payroll going forward, he said.

While not discussing exact figures, Cleveland said welders in Waco can make a good living, typically with a full range of benefits available.

ZipRecruiter, the online job-tracking website, said that as of last week, welders in Waco were making salaries averaging $32,645, ranging from $18,951 to $43,767. Most prevalent were wages ranging from $27,975 to $36,096, according to the site. It observed that the modest $8,121 variance “means regardless of location, there are not many opportunities for increased pay or advancement, even with several years’ experience.”

On the flip side, ZipRecruiter said demand locally is “very active.”

L3 merger meeting

Stockholders in L3 Technologies will meet April 4 in New York to vote on issues crucial to the pending merger of Harris Corporation and L3, a $33.5 billion stock deal that would create the sixth-largest defense contractor.

L3 operates an aircraft modification plant in Waco employing about 800.

Those owning stock in L3 last week were mailed a proxy statement/prospectus, according to a report in MarketWatch. Unless problems arise, the deal will close mid-year, the companies have said.

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