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Mike Copeland: Still bullish on 143-acre Waco development; Tru Jamaica in TV spotlight; Waco Tours wins award

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Cinemark development new rendering (copy)

This rendering shows NewQuest Properties’ development near New Road and Interstate 35. Construction is in full swing, and NewQuest is touting the possible addition of a bowling center to its lineup there.

Houston-based NewQuest Properties continues to churn out positive information about Greater Waco, as it markets a 143-acre “One-of-a-Kind Entertainment-Anchored Development Coming Soon,” gushes a brochure.

COVID-19 has tossed a monkey wrench into NewQuest’s timetable for Cottonwood Creek Market, New Road at Interstate 35, but it apparently has not retreated from grand plans that include a 14-screen Cinemark movie theater and a Topgolf venue. The theater and weatherproof driving range are under construction, says the promotional material appearing on the NewQuest website, while a “family bowling entertainment retailer” is coming soon.

Information appears to have been updated from earlier versions.

Its “tenant highlights” include a mention of the wall-to-wall screens in the theater, XD auditoriums, luxury loungers, reserved seating, online ticketing, and 4K and 3D screens. It advises that Cinemark XD screens accommodate more than “35 trillion colors,” not billion or million.

Waco’s Topgolf will have “an innovative environment featuring backyard-style venue and bays.” The brochure notes that Topgolf boasts more than 50 domestic locations and has moved into the United Kingdom and Australia.

Several pages tout Waco’s vibrant economy and enviable location, its ability to draw from a “large trade area extending to the cities of Temple, Fort Hood and Killeen.” Also highlighted is the development’s proximity to Central Texas Marketplace, new apartment complexes, University High School, Baylor University, Cottonwood Creek Golf Course and the I-35/State Highway 6 intersection, “the most attractive in Central Texas.”

The city, it adds, lies within a 800,000 regional population.

Average household income within three miles of the site stands at $72,000, said the brochure, which reminds that a dollar buys more in Waco. It quotes a Texas Comptroller’s Office report that says “earning $35,000 in Waco is equivalent to $44,132 in Dallas or $45,652 in Austin.”

NewQuest still has restaurant, retail and pad sites available.

Welcome to West

The West community just a short drive up Interstate 35 from Waco has seen an influx of new dining and drinking establishments in recent months despite the pandemic, some also hosting live entertainment.

Newbies dotting Main and Oak streets include, in no particular order:

Ready Brew, serving coffees, wine and beer, 214 N. Main St.

Tipsy Lion Bar & Grill, formerly West Station Café, 128 N. Main St., which describes itself on Facebook as a family friendly bar serving beer, liquor and specialty drinks. It hosts live entertainment on weekends.

Fillin’ Station Bar & Grill, 301 S. Main St., formerly Out West Bar & Grill, serves steak on a stick, Slovacek’s sausage on a stick, hamburgers, pickle fries and chicken-fried steak, according to its Facebook page.

Windy Cindy Dogs, 509 W. Oak St., formerly Tom’s Ole Czech Smokehouse, which sells hot dogs and Blue Bell ice cream by the scoop.

TFNB recognized

TFNB Your Bank for Life won a prestigious award from the Independent Bankers Association of Texas, the IBAT bestowing its Gold Eagle and “Best of Show” award for its community service program, Charity Champions.

The McGregor-based bank with Greater Waco locations created Charity Champions six years ago to celebrate its 125th anniversary. Each year the bank recognizes six Central Texas nonprofits nominated by the community and chosen by bank staffers. Each honoree receives “a full marketing awareness campaign, leadership development training and a team of interns at no cost,” said TFNB spokesman Jason Lavender.

Each honoree, said Lavender, has visibility to more than 500,000 people through media outlets, digital channels, social media and Baylor University athletic events. They also receive videos, commercials and podcasts crafted by the TFNB creative team, said Lavender’s news release.

Best boat tour

The Waco Tours River Cruise won USA Today’s contest to determine the “2020 Best Boat Tour in North America,” the company announced.

A panel of experts partnered with USA Today 10 Best editors to select 20 nominees, with the winner chosen by popular vote.

Waco Tours was started in June 2016 by David Ridley and Luke and Rachel Whyte, who first offered “classic tours” around town in Mercedes-Benz vans. They since have hosted more than 72,000 guests and received more than 3,700 positive TripAdvisor reviews, according to a news release.

The River Cruise is a 2.5-mile sunset trip on the Brazos and Bosque rivers, with tour leaders discussing points of interest from a script curated by tour manager Heather Venable, who said: “Our team is so humbled and grateful for this honor. We all work here because we desire to make people’s lives a little brighter . . . This award for us is a symbol of the thousands of guests who have experienced our hearts of hospitality and have left satisfied.”

Waco Tours this month is offering half-price tours to local residents.

COVID-19 impact study

The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has launched its Total Resource Campaign with the goal of raising $960,000 for chamber programs.

Volunteers will meet in person or remotely every Thursday for 10 weeks to report on their progress, hear updates and discuss strategy.

The Greater Waco Chamber, working with the Cen-Tex Hispanic and African American chambers and Baylor University External Affairs, is surveying members about the adjustments they’ve made to deal with COVID-19.

“We seek to understand the demand for childcare in our community, as well as what assets are present and what resources are needed to help employers and employees alike face those challenges,” said a project summary.

‘Texas Bucket List’

Tru Jamaica restaurant, 937 Taylor St. in East Waco, will be featured this weekend on “The Texas Bucket List” television program airing statewide.

KWTX-TV, the local CBS affiliate, will broadcast the program at 6:30 Saturday evening, according to the TBL website. This is at least the second trip to Greater Waco in recent months for “Texas Bucket List,” which also followed the heavenly aroma to Sascee’s Southern Style Eatery, 719 S. 11th St.

Tru Jamaica serves Caribbean dishes, including jerk chicken, jerk shrimp, curry goat, curry shrimp, oxtails, plantains and red cabbage potato salad.

The Central Texas CW, Channel 46, will air the program at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sales taxes plunge

Despite the pandemic, spending had not cratered in Greater Waco, with the city and its neighbors holding their own in regard to sales tax rebates.

But good news jumped the track last week.

Waco’s $3.17 million sales tax rebate from the Texas Comptroller’s Office was 8.4% below the $3.46 million it received in September last year.

Rebates in September reflect July sales reported to the state in August.

Waco remains in positive territory for the year.

Woodway also suffered a year-over-year decline this month, but Lorena, Mart, Robinson, West and McGregor enjoyed increases.


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