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Hawkins' mansion hits market for $6.4 million

Hawkins' mansion hits market for $6.4 million


The Hawkesdene mansion at 5305 Hillcrest Drive overlooking Lake Waco, once considered the largest house in the city, has hit the market with an asking price of $6.4 million, according to real estate agent Camille Johnson and Nell Hawkins, who owns the home with her husband, Jim Hawkins.

Built between 2000 and 2004, the 17,000-square-foot residence features seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, heated floors, gold-plated fixtures, a movie theater, wine closet, elevator, exercise room, seven fireplaces and a four-car garage, Nell Hawkins said.

“There’s nothing like it in Waco,” Nell Hawkins said by phone. “Jim told me he was going to build my dream home, and I put everything I could think of in it. You might say I exceeded an unlimited budget.”

Now 76 years old, Nell Hawkins said she and her 81-year-old husband feel compelled to downsize and lift the burden of maintaining a residence the size of Hawkesdene that towers above a secluded 5-acre lot.

“I still love the place and will continue to make it available for community events as long as we live here,” Hawkins said. “The housing market is really something in Waco right now, so we decided to go ahead and put it up for sale. If we don’t get the money, we’ll stay here and enjoy it. The right deal may not come around for five years, if at all.”

Johnson, a 31-year real estate veteran whose inventory of listings includes a handful of homes priced at more than $1 million, said Hawkesdene is the most expensive home she has ever marketed.

“There are no comparables for it,” she said. “It is a one-of-a-kind home with an incredible lake view, and we wanted to give it top dollar.”

Johnson said she has received about 10 inquiries, mostly from the curious who had heard of the listing on social media.

“I am trying to protect the Hawkinses,” she said. “We don’t want just lookers. We want people who can really afford to make an offer. It could sell tomorrow or it could take a year. That depends on the right person discovering it, including someone getting a job here and moving to Waco.”

‘A bargain’

Steve Sorrells, a local builder of upscale custom homes, called Hawkesdene “a show stopper, a piece of art,” and said he frankly would have expected it to carry an asking price higher than that being quoted.

“We are seeing an influx of people from out of state, from Arizona, Florida and California, and that kind of number is commonplace in those areas,” Sorrells said. “Many would consider $6.4 million a bargain. A half-a-million-dollar home in Waco would cost six times that in California. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone relocating here closes a deal. If they don’t like that one, I’ll build them one just like it.”

Listing information on shows the property at 5305 Hillcrest Drive was valued at $2.4 million for tax purposes, and the tax burden for 2016 totaled $69,940. Those numbers were down from 2014, when the appraised value stood at $2.8 million, and $78,924 in taxes were paid. also reported that a buyer making a 20-percent down payment on the home of $1.28 million would pay $34,802 a month on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage carrying an interest rate of 3.84 percent.

Jim Hawkins amassed his wealth by acquiring distressed assets and turning around their fortunes under the auspices of First City Financial, a Houston-based banking company that Hawkins relocated to Waco when it fell on hard times. It merged with a company he founded called J-Hawk.

Jim and Nell Hawkins have made gifts of millions of dollars to several projects at Baylor University, including construction of the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center, the Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility and the first electric scoreboard at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Their Hawkesdene arguably was the grandest home in Waco for years but has been eclipsed in size by the 23,240-square-foot home Waco businessman C. Clifton Robinson bought at 2412 Ridgewood Drive, also near Lake Waco. Tax records show that two-story home with 14,938 square feet of living area, but that figure does not include the porches, patios, detached buildings and terraces, according to the city.

Robinson bought the home while it was still under construction in 2013. Todd Behringer, founder of the Top Dollar Pawn chain of pawn shops, had contracted to have the home built after selling his 41-store chain to Cash America for $102.5 million.

With plans to move out of Waco, Behringer pulled the plug on the project and approached Robinson, a longtime friend, about buying it.

“I think Clifton Robinson’s home is now the largest, so I lost that title, which I was glad to relinquish,” Nell Hawkins said.

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