This is where West, Texas is, a town thrust into the national spotlight briefly when a fertilizer plant blew up, killing over a dozen people, injuring dozens more, and decimating a third of the town (only a few collapsed or burned down, but most had severe enough damage that they had to be rebuilt).
JoAnn's Bridal / 700 West Oak Road
Portal to Texas History Online helped out with this one...it begun as a 7-Eleven back in 1977 and sold to Circle K in 1988. Sometime around 1999 (it seems it was still Circle K in the late 1990s) was sold to Skinny's and by 2007 had been operating as a Skinny's/Fina for a number of years. It shut down in the early 2010s after I-35 ate the gas canopy area (and roadside sign), so it never became Alon (and if it did, it was EXTREMELY brief). It was abandoned in 2013 and became JoAnn's Bridal in 2014.
Exxon / 214 Melodie Drive
Around 2007, a restaurant called KD's Smokehouse built a large facility here (with room for live music), but it closed in 2011 (give or take a year). In November 2013, it was renovated and reopened as Slovacek's Travel Center, an Exxon station much like their flagship plant in Snook, but much nicer and featuring sausage, kolaches, and all the convenience store fixings. Here's an advertisement from the August 2009 issue of Waco Today (as KD's) and an article regarding the opening of the gas station (as Slovacek).
In Elm Mott, I-35 is called McLennan Drive.
Exxon/DQ / 135 S. McLennan Drive
The only change seen here since 2013 is replacing the spelled-out "Dairy Queen" on the restaurant side of the gas station with a newer DQ logo. Otherwise, no recent changes have been made here. The station here is Tigermart.
Road Ranger / 6615 N. Interstate 35
This large truck stop opened in November 2016 with a Church's Chicken, Dickey's Barbecue Pit, and other counters (in-house "Texas Taco" and a Cinnabon).
Dairy Queen / 6310 N. Interstate 35
This Dairy Queen hasn't seen too many changes (save for a mid-2000s "DQ" sign) since it opened in 1977.
Northwinds Apartments / 5111 N Interstate 35
Cheap, run-down apartments built in 1978. Two stories, 72 units.
The Home Depot / 1803 Interstate 35
This Home Depot was built in 2008.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott / 4505 N Interstate 35
Opened in the tail-end of 2019 (November/December), this hotel (TownePlace Suites by Marriott Waco Northeast) has a bit of a strange access, requiring driving through Heitmiller Steakhouse's parking lot or going through the old Pecan Lane (which had its railroad crossing cut nearly a decade prior). It has four floors and 85 rooms.
7-Eleven / 4511 Interstate 35 North
This modern 7-Eleven gas station and convenience store was built and opened in 2013 around the time the company built several new units in and around the Waco area (and then stopped again).
Atwoods Ranch & Home / 4501 Interstate 35 North
From what can currently be determined, this opened in 1986 as a Safeway (moving from the spot next door) and became an AppleTree three years later.
In 1992, AppleTree closed but the space was soon renovated and reopened as a Winn-Dixie, which lasted until the entire Texas division was closed down in 2002. There it idled for close to a decade until Atwoods finished its own remodel of the store and opened in opened in January 2011. Atwoods is at the northwest corner of Industrial Boulevard/North Loop 340, the first time of three I-35 crosses the same road. To the west, Industrial Boulevard curls around to Valley Mills Drive (see the section further down), and to the east, it re-intersects south of Waco. Just a stone's throw away from this intersection is a former Albertsons that was only briefly open in the 1990s before becoming a church.
Walmart / 1521 North Interstate Highway 35
The addresses seem to change here (how the numbering jumps from 4500 to 1500 is likely due to 340's intersection), but this Walmart was built "in about 1999" as a Wal-Mart Supercenter (relocating from a smaller store across the street). In the mid-2010s, this Walmart briefly had a Burger King inside the store but it was closed as of summer 2019, otherwise I might've gone up there for a picture. It should be noted there's also a Burger King on the other side of I-35.
Luby's / 951 N. Loop 340
The last Luby's in the Waco-Temple-Killeen area, and soon to close with the liquidation of the chain, and opened in 1989. The three-pointed sign is very visible from I-35 and gives it a bit of resemblance that the sign is rotating. QuikTrip has bought the land and intends to build a store, but the store is still operating, for now.
H-E-B Plus! / 801 N. Interstate 35
The original H-E-B here was a modest store just under 50,000 square feet (but still considered a "Superstore", and I'm not sure if the branding was "H-E-B Superstore") opened in February 1984. In the early 2000s, the store was torn down and rebuilt (facing I-35 instead of Waco Drive) as a substantially larger store at 77,000 square feet. Finally, in November 2011, the store celebrated its expansion and rebranding as "H-E-B Plus!" at 110,000 square feet. The Interstate 35 address suggests it did change addresses when it was rebuilt.
South of H-E-B and north of Sam's Club described in the next paragraph, US Highway 84 is here. To the east, US-84 exits off as the main road becomes TX-31 and continues to Corsicana, ultimately ending in Jacksonville, Texas (if you were follow to the same road). To the west, it ends in Early (east of Brownwood).
Sam's Club / 2301 East Waco Drive
McLennan CAD says this store was built in 1986, but it doesn't face the Interstate at all, and for years, the at-grade frontage roads made the store difficult to access from East Waco Drive. It's been renovated a few times since, and I've personally been to this store a few times (my grandfather was a member) in the late 1990s and very early 2000s.
Originally, this highway (intersecting with North Dallas Highway) had large highway ramps connecting the Interstate to BUS-77 (likely a remnant of when I-35 did not connect to the east), but this and the overpass of BUS-77 over the I-35 frontage roads were dismantled as part of the I-35 widening project. 484 is a somewhat obsolete highway, even if it connects directly toward Highway 6 heading toward College Station (and ultimately Hempstead).
Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church / 1402 Elm Avenue
There isn't much between the south exchange of BUS-77 and the next overpass. A historical marker indicates the church has been at this location since 1948.
615 Forrest Avenue
Mapquest indicates Greenfiber (the current tenant) is a manufacturer of some sort with a plant here, though curiously seems to lack a website. Digging in at newspapers.com indicates this was a facility owned by Swift & Company (now Swift Energy out of Houston) in the 1940s and 1950s but by 1977 was Central Texas Movers & Riggers Inc.
OYO Hotel / 500 N. Interstate 35
OYO Hotel Waco Baylor was part of Scottish Inns until it was flipped around 2018-2019. (It was something prior to Scottish Inns, as well).
Red Roof Inn / 720 South Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
This Red Roof Inn was Victorian Inn (sign said "Victorian Inns", closest surviving hotel of the same chain appears to be in Nacogdoches) in the late 2000s. The two-story, 40-room motel seems to have converted to Red Roof Inn in 2013 between Google Maps and this link. Red Roof Inn is at the northwest corner of MLK Blvd., a road that was formerly Lake Brazos Parkway. Lake Brazos Parkway was renamed in 1995 but kept a dual name with the new road until 2014 when the Lake Brazos Parkway name was officially dropped for practical purposes.
Catty-corner to this hotel was a full Holiday Inn at the southeast corner of the intersection. Note the fact that the Holiday Inn did not connect to the frontage road, a gas station did (and had access to the hotel's parking lot) but it was demolished between 1995 and 2003.
The hotel mets its demise in 2011 after it was foreclosed on with Baylor University purchasing it. Best I can tell is the hotel opened as Holiday Inn (Holiday Inn I-35) in 1973 and became "Hotel Waco" sometime around 2008-2009 when a new Holiday Inn opened elsewhere (and the chain was going through an "image upgrade" that involved a new logo). Check out a picture of the hotel here. The hotel featured 170 rooms across 4 floors.
The Enclave at the Stadium /
1600 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
In 1970, Pecan Gardens Apartments were built at 1601 Spring Street as what appeared to be regular apartments, though eventually the apartments went Section 8 and by the early 1990s were renamed The Villas of Lake Brazos. It was even shut down at one point in the early 1990s due to crime problems. Around 2007 the apartments were purchased, renovated, and renamed as "Lakewood Villas Apartment Community" but low occupancy and a double murder in 2011 caused the apartments to be foreclosed on, and ended up causing it to be relinquished from its Section 8 status. The apartments were evicted again, renovated and reopened as The Hype in time for fall 2014 at Baylor. By early 2016, the apartments had changed names to The Enclave at the Stadium and assumed its current address.
Buzzard Billy's / 100 Jack Kultgen Expy.
Buzzard Billy's has been here since 2008 when it moved from the other side of the river. The build date of the actual building is 1977, and efforts have been made by this website to find the former tenants. There was supposedly a Pelican's Wharf restaurant on this stretch, and while there was a "Pelican's" (elsewhere on what is now MLK, diff. phone number) and "The Wharf" (the latter being at this site in 1990), no conclusive evidence have been found it for being at this site.
725 South University Parks Drive
Since 1984, this has operated as a Jack in the Box, but shut down somewhere around late 2017. Based on land uses, it appears it was bought and used for additional parking for the new hotel next door.
Twisted Root Burger Co. / 801 South 2nd Street
This large building used to have a Kultgen address before it was remodeled. Read about the Texas Playhouse and Twisted Root in this previously published page.
Premier ER & Urgent Care / 221 S. Jack Kultgen Expy.
For years (building built in '79), this was Tanglewood Farms (a restaurant, built in 1979) and later the home of Magic China, which was here starting in 2001. Magic China closed in 2015 at this location to look for a third new location, but it never did. After that, it was demolished for the current tenant.
1000 South 4th Street
The IHOP here closed down in January 2019 but it was part of a much larger "block" that was largely torn down in 2010. (More on this "block" in a future update, coming soon!)
In-N-Out Burger / 801 South 4th Street
This address was formerly used by Clarion, which sat on this block along with a defunct Chevron station.
Valero / 901 South 5th Street
This was built in 1985 and for years was Diamond Shamrock with a "Corner Store", though at least it was Payless Gas from 1985 to 1991. By late 2007 it was converted to a Valero (the convenience store getting a turquoise-themed facelift as well) and in 2019 converted to a Circle K (the convenience store portion).
Fazoli's / 919 S. 6th Street
The Fazoli's building was built in 1974 as Pizza Inn, which it still was as of 1991. At some point in the 1990s it closed and became a Fazoli's, complete with a building renovation.
McDonald's / 906 S. 6th St.
Torn down in 2007 and rebuilt, this was the second McDonald's in the Waco area (and predated 1990). Click the above picture to see the full picture (courtesy McLennan County Appraisal District).
Whataburger / 928 South 7th Street
This Whataburger (#140) opened in October 2016 to replace an older restaurant, which it tore down and rebuild. The original lot was smaller, with some older parking north of the restaurant at Cleveland and 7th that was used for Sul Ross Elementary School across the street.
Chick-fil-A / 901 South 7th Street
This Chick-fil-A (opened October 2014) takes the address of Sul Ross Elementary School, which once occupied this entire block (save for a few houses at the southwest corner), but it closed in 2012, and met the wrecking ball a few years later (along with aforementioned houses). Interestingly, this is referred to the Baylor University Chick-fil-A (officially) even though Baylor is across I-35. When the Chick-fil-A was built, a pedestrian walkway existed to connect it to Baylor, though this was torn down in highway widening. (Like the Fuego entry below, this description was originally posted to Wikimapia).
Panera Bread / 1000 South 8th Street
Opened in summer 2016, this Panera Bread takes up additional space in the block where Chick-fil-A is.
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers /
801 S. Jack Kultgen Expressway
Raising Cane's (third in Waco) opened in September 2016 as part of the redevelopment in this stretch of I-35 where new commercial development has overtaken older residential.
Pizza Hut / 1111 S. 8th Street
Directly across from Raising Cane's on the other side of the freeway is a Pizza Hut from 1975, surviving both cuts by the parent company and the freeway widening. The businesses to the immediate south weren't so lucky, including a Denny's at 1100 S. Ninth Street (closed in June 2014) which also shared the address with a La Quinta Inn (see the Yelp page) and the old location of a Vietnamese restaurant (later relocated), Clay Pot (920 Interstate 35 S.). The La Quinta was bisected by S. 9th Street.
La Quinta Inn & Suites / 911 S. 10th Street
New La Quinta ("La Quinta Inn and Suites by Wyndham Waco Downtown - Baylor") built on the north side of the freeway in 2018. By the time it was completed, the old hotel (described above) had been torn down completely.
Super 8 / 1320 South Jack Kultgen Expy.
This hotel (Super 8 by Wyndham Waco University Area) was built in 1994 and possibly always a Super 8. Next to it (across 14th Street) is a vacant lot from highway ROW construction. This was a Popeyes restaurant at 1401 Park Avenue, closed in 2017.
Hawk's Hot Chicken / 1500 N. Interstate 35
This restaurant (originally a Burger King, built in 1991 closed at YE 2019 or early 2020 based on my estimations) opened as Hawk's Hot Chicken in early 2021. It's a Waco original but it isn't known if it's based on the Nashville hot chicken craze or not.
Fuego Tortilla Grill / 1524 South Jack Kultgen Expy.
This taco shop was built on the site of Legends Cycle, which moved out in the early 2010s. Prior to that, it was Euro Shop, which was another motorcycle dealership until the partnership disintegrated and the business partners went separate ways (that was 2011). In late 2013, the building was torn down, and the new Fuego Tortilla Grill opened in August 27th 2015, the fourth location in the chain and second in Waco, though Fuego's dual-location presence in Waco only lasted a year.
That paragraph is verbatim from Wikimapia (with some copy-editing) that I did several years back. It is similar to the College Station location (but with a better interior and serving green-and-yellow tortilla chips instead of CS' maroon-and-white) and one of the first places I ate when I was living in Waco in summer 2019. Across the freeway on South 16th Street was Altex Computer & Electronics, which had computers and components. The shop, at 1525 Jack Kultgen, wasn't as big as its other stores (a third of the size of the Houston store, at 6,000 square feet). Despite its small size, the company did not have the resources to relocate it and the Waco location closed in February 2016 after having been built in 2003 or 2004.
Orscheln Farm & Home / 2701 S Jack Kultgen Expy.
For years, this was University High School at 2600 Bagby.
It was originally known as "Waco Technical High School" when it opened in 1946 and became University High School in 1954. I had read that the reason it became "University High School" was because of the campus' original spread-out nature (like a university) but I can't find the article anymore. However, topography maps and aerial photographs support the article I had remembered reading, as the school did have more buildings until construction of I-35 wiped all but one out, at which point, newer, more traditional buildings were built closer to Valley Mills.
After serving as a high school for decades, in the 2011-2012 school year, it became University Middle School (which moved from across the street) as University High School moved to a new location at New Road and Old Robinson Road. UMS closed as the school district reorganized, and after inviting former alumni, the old UHS torn down and redeveloped as commercial space, retiring the address. Briefly, during construction, 2600 Bagby was used as the address for the first tenant that was here, Gander Mountain, which opened in fall 2014. Just over two years later (spring 2017), the store closed, and Orscheln opened in November 2018.
I never went to UHS, but I always do remember seeing it from above (on the ramp from Valley Mills to I-35) coming back home from visiting my grandfather, cementing the memories made while I was there.
SOUTH VALLEY MILLS DRIVE to LOOP 340 - South
See the Valley Mills page, it's been updated, check it out!
Texas Roadhouse / 2815 La Salle Avenue
Located on the quarter-mile stretch of La Salle between the Circle and where it merges back into the highway, this chain restaurant opened around 1999 (according to county records).
Motel 6 / 3120 Jack Kultgen Expy.
There are actually two Motel 6 hotels between Valley Mills and New Road. Somewhere around this point, the highway drops the Jack Kultgen name, but I don't know where officially.
Relax Inn / 3824 Interstate 35
This motel has been here since 1957 under some name or another. Work in 2018 demolished the old lobby and built a new one on the south side of the complex (as well as filling in a small central courtyard in the middle of the parking lot). The old logo of the motel, which it had from at least 2007 to the re-do, looked a lot like the old Pepsi logo (the one pre-2008) except with green instead of blue.
In 1983, it was the Thunderbird Motel.
Motel 6 / 3912 Interstate 35 South
This Motel 6, from Google searching, was originally Rodeway Inn and converted sometime around 2017.
Hooters / 3921 Jack Kultgen Expy.
This Hooters opened in January 2006 among opposition but proved to be a big hit anyway. The driveway doesn't connect to the development to the south, making access a bit difficult. As of this writing, this is soon to change with a QuikTrip being built and connecting the driveway up (but doesn't connect to the Quality Inn/Carl's/IHOP parking lot).
4017 Interstate 35 South
Former Carl's Jr./Green Burrito restaurant. Carl's Jr. returned to Waco in January 2011 but closed around late 2019.
IHOP / 4109 Interstate 35 South
This IHOP opened in the mid-2000s. It is open 24 hours.
Quality Inn & Suites / 2410 S. New Road
"Quality Inn & Suites Near University" was built in 2001. It is attached to aforementioned now-former Carl's Jr.'s parking lot.
Flying J Travel Center / 2409 S. New Road
This Flying J Travel Center (sister brand Pilot is down the road) offers Denny's as an on-site option.
Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center / 100 Hillcrest Medical Boulevard
When this large hospital first built in 2009 it was the new location of the Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, and at the time of its opening, 50% of the hospital was bought by Scott & White Healthcare. In 2014, it was the first hospital to be rebranded as a Baylor Scott & White hospital (Scott & White's merging partner, Baylor Healthcare System, had not been affiliated with Baylor University for decades).
Pilot Travel Center / 8055 Interstate 35
This Pilot Travel Center has a Wendy's inside the main convenience store as well as a Subway.
Mitchell Construction Co. Inc. / 139 Mid Tex Road
The only thing between Hewitt Drive and the next exit is the Lorena Industrial Complex, a small cluster of warehouses off of I-35, this is one of them. Also, around this area, the I-35 numbering resets back to 100 and counts up again heading south.
Brookshire Brothers / 406 N. Interstate 35
McLennan County is one of the only counties (if not THE only one) where both Brookshire's and Brookshire Brothers grocery stores co-exist...at least before Brookshire Brothers bought David's in 2013.
15148 S. Interstate 35
The Interstate numbering has hit another reset going south, this time going from south to north (likely part of Temple-Killeen's numbering system). This used to be Encore Custom Fence & Deck, Inc., though has since closed.
Quality Parts Supply / 15844 South Interstate 35
Used truck dealer, but also a scrapyard for truck parts.
Bruceville Eddy RV Park / 18615 N. Interstate 35
This is probably "North" Interstate 35 not because it's north or south of anything, it's on the northbound side.
20102 S. IH 35
This Shell/CEFCO (back in 2012, CEFCO used Shell instead of self-branding) closed September 2012 due to widening, but left the convenience store and the gas canopy. The older gas canopy (the one that wasn't torn out) suggests that it may have been branded as Texaco when it opened, as many Shell stations were prior to 2003. The now-defunct CEFCO #47 was built in 1996, lending credence to the original Texaco branding.
Kissing Tree Vineyards / 109 3rd Street
From what I can tell, most of Eddy's downtown buildings have common ownership, like the art gallery to the west of this building and the former (but historic) bank at the corner of the frontage road and FM 107 (a few older buildings were taken out closer to I-35). Information on some of the Eddy buildings can be seen at this page.