Herrings break ground on Easy Street
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Spirits were bright on Thursday morning as Robert and Bonnie Herrings, owners of Century21 Realty and JR Rentals and Property Management, celebrated their businesses expanding with a groundbreaking ceremony at their properties located at 102 and 104 Easy St.
The site, once cleared of the existing structures, will be the location of a 3,400 sq. ft., two-story commercial use real estate office building with 30 parking spaces to consolidate their two companies.
A jubilant Bonnie Herrings welcomed a small crowd to the ceremony, attended by the Herrings’ staff, city officials and several city council members as well as Copperas Cove mayor Bradi Diaz.
Bonnie Herrings first thanked their staff at JR Rentals and Property Management.
“You see us day in, day out, Monday through Friday, 10-12 hours a day, you’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ugliest,” Herrings quipped. “If you stay after all that, you really love us.”
She also thanked the Realtors of Century21 Premier Real Estate, saying they are like family.
Herrings thanked Copperas Cove City Planner Robert Lewis, and Tamara Gast, the city development liaison, for giving her guidance and help, as well as City Manager Ryan Haverlah, Kevin Keller, and particularly the three Planning & Zoning &Z commissioners, Robert Endter, Howard Hawk, and Kenneth Thomas.
She expressed her appreciation for the city council members who heard the project and researched this project to ensure the best possible way to accommodate not only them, but their surrounding neighbors.
“I truly believe this project is a win-win not only for my husband and I, but also our neighbors.”
Where the city council is concerned, Herrings thanked Place 1 council member Joann Courtland.
“She was the first responder to my email, she came out and walked the ground with me.”
She also thanked councilmen Dan Yancey, Marc Payne, and Jay Manning, with the newest councilman, Jack Smith, whom she said was very helpful behind the scenes.
“When you’re building things in the community, you have to have help, and when people help you, you want to say thank you.”
She particularly thanked former councilman Kirby Lack, who was not present on Thursday.
“From the very beginning in 2014, he was there for us, and he voted for us today in this present time. I will find him for our ribbon cutting, because he has to be part of our celebration.”
She also thanked the Leader-Press for its first article “Not so Easy Street” in 2014.
“It’s a different story today, and they’ve been there from the beginning, they’ve covered the story, they’ve been detailed.”
Herrings also thanked Jeremiah Lizama, one of their agents and photographer, Mike Kriegel with Mitchell and Associates, Makeen Tech Corporation, Cook Residential and Commercial Design, and Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans.
John Bowen, the builder, spoke briefly.
“I have a longstanding relationship with the Herrings, and it’s been a good one. I have great respect for them. They are an asset to not just Copperas Cove, but the Fort Hood area. Along the way, there were quite a few roadblocks. (Bonnie) does not understated what a roadblock is.”
Mayor Bradi Diaz said a few words as well about the project and the Herrings.
“They did everything they could to make this come about and they did it in the best possible way. They did it positively, and they did it by talking to whoever they needed to talk to, to make it happen, and they did it in a collaborative way to make their project work, and to work with their neighbors and their community, and that’s the best possible outcome for the citizens of Copperas Cove and the City of Copperas Cove. Anytime a new business is coming, it’s better for all of us.”
Robert Herrings Jr., the designated broker of Century21 Premier and the property manager, spoke last prior to the groundbreaking. He first thanked his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and said he was both “honored and humbled” to get the nod to move forward with the new location.
“I wasn’t born here, but as soon as I finished my 24 years of military service, I came here, I love this community. For a small-town Georgia boy straight from the tobacco farms and fields back home, this town puts me in the mind of the town I grew up in.”
He said he looks forward to continuing to provide quality service to the greater Fort Hood area, where it comes to sales and rentals.
The Herrings were able to secure a rezoning of the property in August of 2019, which also included an amendment to the city’s Future Land Use Plan. The couple first applied for the changes back in 2014, but the city council at that time voted to deny the FLUP amendment by a margin of 4-2.
Previous plans presented included a drive-through lane, which Herrings dropped after realizing it wasn’t necessary since most of their customers pay their rent online.
During the public hearing in August, Bonnie Herrings said they were hoping for a win-win, as they worked with the neighbors and the city.
Residents from Easy Street and surrounding streets spoke against the Herrings’ plans, which were modified during the five-year saga to make the couple’s dream a reality.
Concerns were increased traffic on Easy Street, and some residents even suggested the couple find another existing property to purchase and run their business. But both Robert and Bonnie Herrings wanted to develop property they already own.
Currently the Herrings operate their business out of two suites in Cove Terrace Shopping Center. The build on Easy Street is expected to be completed in 2020.