WACO (February 5, 2013)--Orange cones and mounds of dirt draw attention to the dozens of construction projects underway in Waco that are part of a plan put in place in 2007 to attract $1 billion in development in the downtown area over the course of a decade.
Chris McGown with the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce is keeping tabs on the progress.
He says about 700 residential units have been built downtown in the last three to five years; thousands of square feet of office and retail are now open; Baylor’s new football stadium is going up; new interstate bridges are being constructed, and the Waco Convention Center, which McGown calls one of the crown jewels of downtown, has been renovated.
And in the first months of 2013, McGown says developers are half way to meeting the $1 billion goal.
"We just finished the Super Bowl so I figured it'd be a good time for our halftime scorecard,” he said.
“(There’s) $520 million in new development…downtown and there's another $380 million in development right now, so we're well on pace,” he said.
New restaurants such as the Miraj Mediterranean eatery are popping up and old venues such as the Hippodrome are coming back to life.
But the resurrection goes beyond businesses in the town square.
There are signs of a new 30 unit gated town home community going up at South 7th Street and Cleveland Avenue.
But the thing developers are most excited about, McGown says, "Is taking good advantage of the tremendous opportunity that we have on the riverfront."
Waco officials are now looking for more developers to submit plans for construction projects to be built on 16 acres of city land along the Brazos River.