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Mike Copeland: H-E-B renovating Wooded Acres store; Hello Bello appears poised to buy Waco plant; Lake Whitney resort

Mike Copeland: H-E-B renovating Wooded Acres store; Hello Bello appears poised to buy Waco plant; Lake Whitney resort

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Word is leaking out, so to speak, about yet another impressive prospect viewing the industrial landscape in Waco.

A source whose tips typically hold water strongly suggests Launched.LA, a West Coast company specializing in “healthy lifestyle next-gen brands,” as its website says, covets the glassy 303,000-square-foot building at 2021 Texas Central Parkway. The source said the company’s Hello Bello label would produce its plant-based diapers sold at Walmart stores and elsewhere.

Temporary signs also appeared at the site late last week, mentioning both Launched.LA and Hello Bello.

The Tribune-Herald could not confirm this information through official channels Saturday, but responses to inquires were interesting.

Dallas-based real estate agent Rob Weber, whose Weber Commercial Real Estate Services listed the building, said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from commenting. He acknowledged his on-site signs are gone.

Likewise, Kris Collins, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce’s top industry recruiter, said she was bound by confidentiality restraints.

“This is one of those things I’m just not at liberty to discuss,” she said, referring comment to the listing agent. “It’s a great building, in really good shape, has a lot of strong attributes that would make it suitable for different types of business. We obviously don’t like having empty buildings. Filling this one creates new jobs and represents a great opportunity.”

The last user was Domtar Personal Care, a powerhouse in the personal care industry, which shuttered the facility in 2018 as a cost-cutting move.

It employed 145 people at the time and was the ninth-largest taxpayer in Waco, paying levies to Waco, McLennan County, the Midway Independent School District and McLennan Community College.

Domtar entered the Waco market in 2013, buying out Georgia-based Associated Hygienic Products, which had occupied 2021 Texas Central Parkway since 2009. Associated Hygienic Products had 250 people on its Waco payroll when Domtar bought it, and it had gotten tax breaks and $1.7 million in economic development funds from Waco and McLennan County to expand the plant on two occasions.

County Judge Scott Felton on Saturday joined the chorus of those declining to comment on the potential new occupant for confidentiality reasons.

He, like other community leaders and elected officials, attended Amazon’s reveal party Friday at the Waco Convention Center, the company confirming its intent to place a 700,000-square-foot fulfillment center on Exchange Parkway, where a thousand full-time employees would make a minimum of $15 an hour. Occupancy is scheduled sometime next year.

“That was quite a deal, will have a huge impact on the community,” Felton said.

Amazon’s acquisition of 93 acres in the industrial district means it has ample room to expand, should the need arise, he said.

Felton said securing industrial commitments serves to expand the tax base while potentially reducing the burden on homeowners.

Back at 2021 Texas Central Parkway, the company reportedly planning to use the space, Launched.LA, also is the parent company of State of Sun, Taffer’s Mixologist and Tiller & Hatch Home Style Supply Co., according to its website.

Actress Kristen Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, started Hello Bello, whose products include hand sanitizer, shampoo, diaper rash cream and detergent.

Waco City Council Member John Kinnaird attended Friday’s Amazon party and made an interesting suggestion that a dedicated fund be established to support skills training and workforce development locally, and that tax revenue generated by Amazon’s fulfillment center support it.

Collins, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Waco Chamber, received high praise from several quarters at Friday’s festivities for her shepherding of the Amazon deal to fruition.

Applause and a shout-out from chamber President Matt Meadors, who served as master of ceremonies, were included in the recognition.

“She’s a hard worker. It’s day and night with her,” Felton said later. “She can close a deal if anyone can.”

Collins said negotiations continue on an incentive package for Amazon that likely would involve tax refunds over a period yet to be determined.

She said perks now under consideration are “all local,” and would not include deal-closing grants from the state’s Texas Enterprise Fund.

H-E-B renovation

H-E-B apparently is taking nothing for granted.

The dominant local grocer has secured a building permit to expand and remodel its store at Wooded Acres Drive and Bosque Boulevard.

Such upgrades typically are part of doing business for retailers such as H-E-B, but impressive, and surprising, is the cost of this attention. The work is estimated to cost $14 million, according to the permit.

Inquiries have been made about what the project entails.

Lake Whitney resort

Interesting news out of Lake Whitney, the sprawling flood control reservoir in Bosque County that attracts anglers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Sean Conlon has announced his Conlon & Co. has bought all remaining undeveloped lots in the White Bluff Resort community on Lake Whitney.

“It is the company’s first venture in the Dallas-Fort Worth market area,” according to a press release.

Conlon regularly is seen on TV as host of CNBC’s “The Deed,” and also is frequently interviewed by CNN, The New York Times, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, the press release states. His partner is former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, according to the press release.

With great appreciation for the state’s pro-business climate, “Conlon looks forward to leading the evolution of the White Bluff Resort,” it states.

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