Work has resumed on a building in Central Texas Marketplace that La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe will anchor.
Several weeks of inactivity at the construction site prompted concern among fans of the Dallas-based restaurant chain, including at least one city of Waco official.
David Hawkins, a supervisor with Austin-based PRM Construction, said construction is back “in full swing,” and that a small crew was installing framing for storefront glass this week at the 12,000-square-foot retail and restaurant center that will include 145-seat La Madeleine cafe.
Promotional material prepared by CLD Realty, which has been marketing the site, calls the center “Waco Marketplace.”
“Everything is moving along, back in full swing,” Hawkins said.
He said he expects work on the shell to last another two to three weeks, and the site should be ready for tenants in 10 weeks to two months.
Waco attorney and entrepreneur Dan McReynolds secured rights to place La Madeleine cafes in Waco, Tyler and Colorado, and teamed with Waco businessman Gordon Robinson on the venture.
The La Madeleine in Tyler started serving in December 2016. Meanwhile, Austin real estate agent Teddy Leonard said in mid-2017 that La Madeleine in Waco likely would open before the end of the year.
That did not happen, and the deserted appearance of the job site late last year and the sight of building materials sitting idle on a concrete slab prompted speculation the project was in jeopardy.
Waco inspections supervisor Bobby Horner, whose office received design plans for Waco Marketplace, said he spoke with McReynolds and received assurances the venture remains viable. Horner deferred requests for more details to McReynolds.
McReynolds and Robinson have not returned several calls seeking comment, and Horner could not be reached for comment on the resumption of construction at Central Texas Marketplace.
McReynolds said in earlier interviews he would like to recruit a “progressive, fast-casual restaurant” to the strip as a complement to La Madeleine. Leonard did not return calls seeking comment on progress in lining up additional tenants for the building.
A flyer distributed to potential users shows Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, a 200-location chain, taking space next to La Madeleine. The Smallcakes website shows a location in Waco “coming soon,” but does not list an address.
The La Madeleine at the marketplace will operate near the former Twin Peaks building, the scene of a shootout in May 2015 that left nine bikers dead and many wounded. Indiana-based Scotty’s Brewhouse is remodeling the former Twin Peaks site, where it will open a sports bar.
Scotty’s has applied for a mixed drink permit from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and is hiring staffers, according to signs posted outside.
Jason Wetzel, who manages the La-Z-Boy furniture store adjacent to the La Madeleine-anchored strip center, said by phone he had become concerned about the status of the project.
The building shell obscures the view of La-Z-Boy from much of Central Texas Marketplace. Wetzel said that would pose less of a problem if the strip center brings more shoppers and diners to the marketplace, and possibly to his furniture store.
No one with the La Madeleine corporate office has returned calls.
Mark Whatley, a real estate agent in Tyler who helped McReynolds find a La Madeleine site in that East Texas city, said it is his understanding the restaurant “is doing just fine, and they are very pleased with it.”
Central Texas Marketplace is also attracting other users. A spokesman said Cricket Wireless has opened a store there, and Guitar Center Music & Arts, which focuses on band and orchestra equipment, has signed a lease.