Atwoods Ranch and Home, selling everything from pet supplies to plants and building materials, has broken ground on a 63,000-square-foot store at Interstate 35 and Alliance Parkway, near the Hewitt Walmart.
The new store would make Greater Waco a two-Atwoods market, joining a Lacy Lakeview store the Oklahoma-based chain opened about 10 years ago.
Atwoods’ arrival four years after Walmart’s opening in 2017 moves Hewitt closer to establishing its own retailing identity, City Manager Bo Thomas said. Conservatively speaking, the new Atwoods, scheduled to open by Oct. 1, could generate $120,000 annually in sales tax revenue for Hewitt, Thomas said.
That infusion would fit nicely with Hewitt’s plans to improve improve streets and drainage and relocate utilities on Spring Valley Road.
Thomas said some erroneously believe Hewitt is awash in money because of the breakneck pace of commercial development along Hewitt Drive.
“I think there are misconceptions about where the corporate boundaries are for Hewitt, Woodway and Waco along Hewitt Drive,” Thomas said. “Just because it’s on Hewitt Drive does not mean Hewitt gets that revenue.”
The Walmart at 600 Hewitt Drive is in Waco. The H-E-B near Highway 84 and Estates Drive is in Woodway.
Sales taxes put about $2.8 million in city coffers annually, and Hewitt has relied exclusively on its day-to-day operating budget to make capital improvements to infrastructure, Thomas said.
“We have way more projects on the list than we have funding sources,” he said.
Commerce Park at I-35 and Alliance Parkway has become a drawing card, its 143 acres developed to create a setting suitable for industrial and commercial growth. Atwoods took almost 9 acres there, said real estate agent Pat Farrar, who marketed the site with colleague Raynor Campbell.
Farrar said negotiations with Atwoods lasted longer than a year.
At 63,000 square feet, Hewitt’s Atwoods location will boast about 12,000 more square feet than the 51,721-square-foot version in Lacy Lakeview, according to information provided by the McLennan County Appraisal District.
A manager at the Atwoods in Lacy Lakeview, who did not want to give her name as she is not a spokesperson, said stores employ about 50 people.
Thomas said the store will draw people in.
“It’s a farm and ranch store, meaning it will serve a lot of folks beyond the city of Hewitt, much as Walmart has,” Thomas said. “We’ll have additional traffic in the community shopping at that particular store.”
He said talking with Atwoods and observing operations at other locales leads him to believe it will become a quality corporate citizen.
“They have been very upfront and good to work with so far,” he said.
Raynor and Farrar, both with Reid Peevey Real Estate Co., said dealing in and around Commerce Park continues to percolate.
They said Atwoods’ presence may appeal to prospects wanting to cluster nearby just as Cracker Barrel saw fit to open a second Waco-area location next to Hewitt’s Walmart. The Cracker Barrel in Lacy Lakeview is across Lake Shore Drive from an Atwoods-anchored commercial center.
Retail pad sites of 1 acre or more remain available, including along the Interstate 35 and Alliance Parkway frontage. Farrar said COVID-19 short-circuited interest among restaurant chains, but he could see it being rekindled if the pandemic can be effectively dealt with going forward. He said uncertainty over the election made it difficult to secure commitments.
Meanwhile, Farrar said a flooring company and a maker of home audio equipment want to place warehouses in Commerce Park.