The vacant but stately Guaranty Bank building at South 13th Street and Austin Avenue has become the property of developer Shane Turner, who will transform it into his company headquarters while making two of its three floors available for professional offices, Turner has confirmed.
Dedicated in 1959, the three-story structure with impressive columns served for decades as home to First Federal Savings. It later became a branch of now-defunct Guaranty Bank and went vacant in 2006, when Guaranty relocated to a banking center in Woodway.
An almost identical former Guaranty Bank building at Lake Air and Valley Mills drives was demolished by Bank of America, which placed there a 4,446-square-foot branch about four years ago.
Brothers Shane and Cody Turner have been heavily involved in the downtown renaissance, spearheading projects valued at more than $50 million to bring town houses, loft apartments, retail and restaurants to the inner city and beyond, and have others in the works.
Among their projects has been the $2.6 million renovation of the historic Waco Hippodrome Theater, which reopened in 2014 after a four-year hiatus due to financial problems.
Shane Turner said he bought the former Guaranty Bank building about two months ago from Waco businessman Gordon Robinson, who had owned the building for about 10 years. Turner will consolidate three offices on the top floor, including those of his Lucra Real Estate and Kunkel Construction, as well as the Hippodrome staff.
“That’s a total of about 40 employees,” Turner said.
Turner said Sterling Thompson Architects is preparing design plans for a remodeling of the building, and interior demolition has begun.
“I am working with the Texas Historical Commission in an effort to preserve as much of its appearance and flavor as possible,” he said.
Turner said he could not yet estimate how much he will spend on converting the historic structure into executive offices. He said a 6,000-square-foot building next to the bank could prove suitable for retail development.
Imagine Waco plan
“That’s a significant building, and I love the movement of development activity in that direction,” said Megan Henderson, executive director of City Center Waco, which advocates for downtown improvements.
Henderson said the Imagine Waco plan urges the creation of office space using existing historic buildings, and this project fits that description.
“This is a great addition to not only our menu of use options but for people who want to be downtown,” she added. “People get fired up about new restaurants, as I do, but having professional people come downtown day in and day out has kept it going even during the lean times.”
Henderson said making the long-vacant structure at 13th Street and Austin Avenue the centerpiece of a retail-and-office development could indicate “critical mass is expanding” beyond existing hotbeds of activity.
“People want to be where the action is,” she said. “They get fired up to do a better job when the environment is innovative, energetic and creative. Downtown is that way and becoming more so year after year. The Turners are plugged into the vision of where downtown is going, and this project sounds exciting.”
More Turner ventures
Another venture the Turners have launched downtown includes placing 21 luxury lofts in the 99-year-old warehouse at 216 S. Sixth St. that most recently served as home to Gradel Printing. They also built Tinsley Place apartments and have gutted aging buildings between Seventh and Eight streets on Franklin Avenue for a mixed-use development called Franklin Place that will have loft apartments, retail and restaurant space.
The Turners also for several years have been acquiring and demolishing old structures near South 11th Street and Interstate 35, where they plan a development that will include two hotels, restaurants and shops.