Waco: Developers Plan Renovations for Historic Hippodrome

WACO (January 15, 2013)- By the end of the summer, the now vacant Hippodrome Theatre in downtown Waco could once again return to life.

Two local developers, brothers Shane and Cody Turner, have plans to purchase the property from the Waco Performing Arts Company and restore it to its former glory.

According to Shane Turner, it's a $2.1 million dollar project that involves repairing damage caused by leaks in the roof and sidewalks.

The sound structure and equipment needs to be replaced and a three -story addition on the side of the building will provide space for an elevator, staircase, and three additional women's and men's restrooms.

An outdoor sound stage will also be added.

Turner envisions a studio movie grill atmosphere with an early 19th Century fill.

Concerts, movies, plays, and indoor and outdoor events are in the works.

It's an expensive project mainly, because Turner says the building has been vacant since for a number of years and there are certain guidelines that must be followed when repairing an historic property.

But this venture could come with some financial help from the city of Waco.

The city council will hold a public hearing during Tuesday night's meeting to talk about the proposed renovations and whether the city should kick in nearly $424,000 in TIF, or Tax Increment Financing, funds.

The TIF dollars would pay for sewer, water, electrical service upgrades, storefront doors and windows, an outdoor balcony, signage, landscaping, and sidewalk and curb repair.

The theater closed in February 2010 after its current owner the WPAC ran out of money.

The Hippodrome, which originally opened in February 1914, is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and the Texas Historical Commission roster and is also a member of the League of Historical American Theaters.

Turner says once he and his partners acquire the building later this week and the council approves the TIF funds, he plans to start renovations next month and hope to be finished by late summer.

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