As demolition of a former restaurant has begun, developers working to transform the site into a Starbucks coffeehouse are seeking artists to install a mural on the proposed store’s facade.

Plans to convert the former Waffle Shoppe restaurant site into the coffeehouse remain in the permitting stage with the city of Longview, they said, but demolition crews had plundered the old structure by lunchtime Wednesday.

Asbestos already has been abated from the building, which had been vacant since Waffle Shoppe closed in 2016.

Developers are looking for local artists and designs, and they’ve created a gofundme.com page to raise up to $20,000 to commission a muralist to paint the street-facing side of the building, saying that they wanted to raise opportunity and awareness, along with funds, because a mural wasn’t originally contemplated or budgeted.

“We thought this was a nice opportunity to further involve the community and add this component to the project,” said Grant Gary, president of brokerage services for The Woodmont Co.

The Woodmont Co. of Fort Worth is among several agencies involved in efforts to redevelop the site at 707 W. Marshall Ave.

“The corner of Highway 80 and Spur 63 is often called the gateway to Longview,” according to the gofundme.com page. “For the past few years, this site has sat abandoned, becoming an eyesore for the city. Now, with a new development project underway, the new tenant and development team have decided to go beyond simply replacing the building on this iconic corner; they want to make this site into a true gateway to the city.”

Murals have been added before to several other Woodmont-involved properties, according to John King Jr. of JBK Enterprises of Longview.

Added Gary, “We felt this would be a great opportunity to enhance that intersection and hopefully spur development along the corridor.”

Developers want the mural to have a community theme to it and not be advertiser-driven, they said. They are vetting artists and designs but ask that any Longview-area artist wanting to be a muralist reach out to them on their Facebook page.

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.  

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