Waco: Construction for riverfront development on the horizon

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Construction for Waco's biggest commercial development enterprise is on the horizon.

("Brazos Promenade" rendering by Catalyst Urban Development)

The Waco City Council authorized a $5,500,000 TIF grant for Phase 1 of the Riverfront Development Project Tuesday night.

"We took an important, milestone step in the project," said Bradley Ford, Assistant City Manager for the City of Waco.

In an unanimous vote, council members approved the ground lease (6.3 acres for a term of 80 years with a 19 year renewal option), a parking easement, and the economic development agreement with Catalyst Urban Waco Development.

The first of four phases, the $40,000,000 Brazos Promenade, consists of 264 multi-family apartment units, more than 10,200 square feet of restaurant, retail, and office space, a parking garage (with 170 public spaces), and improvements to the Waco Farmer's Market and University Parks Drive, according to city documents.

"It gives Waco a new mixed-use environment on the river that we think will be very pedestrian friendly, have shops and restaurants, and also places to live, in a way that we don't have right now," said Ford. "Mixed-use development is very fiscally responsible development."

The $100,000,000 project has been envisioned for decades, however, along the way, the idea of riverfront development has hit several roadblocks including delays and full on restarts.

City leaders and staff expressed excitement Tuesday about finally getting the project rolling.

"I also think it's going to be very exciting for all the residents of Waco to have a great spot to go have a dinner on the river, and really interact well on the river, as well as downtown," said Ford.

Ford says construction was expected to begin in downtown Waco as early as September.

The community gets a say on specific pieces of the project beforehand; the city is hosting public input meetings in February and March to hear ideas about how to design some of the public spaces in Phase 1 including the Waco Farmer's Market which will be relocating back to the riverfront.

In addition to the development vote, the council also threw unanimous support behind a crackdown on illegal gambling in Waco and McLennan County.

While it's still in the pre-filing stages, council members approved a resolution encouraging elected officials of the 86th Texas Legislature to support and pass legislation giving the county the power to regulate the operation of game rooms.