Riverfront Project Gets Thumbs Up From Local Stakeholders

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WACO (June 28, 2013)—A multi-million dollar development plan that calls for riverfront condos, apartments, retail shops, hotels, restaurants and even a grocery store along the Brazos River in downtown Waco got a thumbs-up Friday from a committee of local stakeholders.

A rendering of how the completed development might look.

The committee met behind closed doors Friday morning to review plans for the project proposed by developers Rick Sheldon and Joe Beard.

The development could come with a price tag of as much as $300 million, officials have said.

The stakeholders were impressed, Downtown Development Corporation Executive Director Megan Henderson said after the meeting, which she said was an important step that gave community leaders a chance to become comfortable with the different components of the plan.

“You know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we want to get it right, we want to kick all the tires,” she said.

Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan, Jr., shared Henderson’s enthusiasm for the project.

“We’re very excited about the proposal,” he said.

“We like the way it looks and we like the size of it and we really like the way the river fits into it,” he said.

The project, which would transform the landscape of the Brazos River from the Franklin Avenue bridge to Interstate 35, next will be reviewed by the Downtown Development Corporation board, which meets on July 9.

Then it goes to the Waco City Council.

If it clears those hurdles, ground could be broken on the project by the fall of 2014, Waco City Manager Larry Groth said earlier.

The development would be the culmination of a push dating back to the 1980s that led to the creation of Indian Spring Park, construction of the river walk, the relocation of Waco’s zoo to Cameron Park, and more recently extensive residential and commercial development in the downtown area.

The project would complement and serve as a commercial bridge to Baylor University’s $250 million on-campus football stadium, which is due to be finished in time for the start of the 2014 season.

The on-campus stadium is now under construction on a 93-acre site on the East side of the river.

A pedestrian bridge will be built across the Brazos to connect the stadium to the campus.