Waco City Council Approves Agreement with Baylor on Downtown Basketball Arena and Surrounding Development | Local government. and politics
Waco City Council on Tuesday signed an agreement with Baylor University to set up $ 700 million in downtown waterfront development with the $ 185 million Baylor basketball arena as the centerpiece .
City council approved the non-binding agreement, as well as contracts with several companies to provide design or consulting services, after a joint meeting to discuss the pans with McLennan County commissioners earlier today.
The City of Waco will partner with Baylor University to fund a $ 185 million home for the college’s basketball teams on the downtown shores, a home that would also serve as a managed performance venue by the city and anchor a larger development.
During the meeting, Waco City Manager Bradley Ford said the city’s desire to develop the waterfront dates back at least to its 1968 comprehensive plan. He said the deal with Baylor was “monumental. “.
“What results from it is that we have a facility, an amenity, a district beyond comparison, which is beyond comparison for cities of our size”, a said Ford.
The city plans to make a $ 65 million contribution to the area to fund tax increases at Baylor’s Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion. This facility is expected to be completed in 2024 and serve as an entertainment venue for the city, which would be able to book events in space for 90 days a year.
Catalyst Urban Development is in the middle of a project, which he calls Riverfront, with apartments and commercial space taking shape on city-owned land along University Parks Drive, a few blocks from the site of the arena. Residents are expected to start moving into the new Catalyst-built apartments on both sides of the college parks over the next four to five months, Ford said.
Catalyst will expand the original plans and integrate its construction into the facilities around the arena. With the exception of a Ben E. Keith Co. facility at 320 S. University Parks Drive, related developments between the river and University Parks are expected to extend from Interstate 35 to Franklin Avenue. A hotel and parking are provided on the Clay Avenue side of the Freeway, and a block with a restaurant and retail space is provided on the Franklin side of Clay.
Baylor University President Linda Livingstone said I-35 has long been a barrier between students and the rest of Waco, but planned improvements for pedestrians under the freeway will help close that gap at long term and will serve as an attraction for future students and potential teachers.
“Our students love Waco,” said Livingstone. “A lot of them want to stay in Waco. Even if they don’t stay, they love to be here. While they are students they want to engage in the community, and as the city center has developed they have spent more and more time here and that will only improve further. plus that.
The Foster Pavilion will occupy approximately 245,000 square feet and its lobby approximately 6,000 square feet. The upper floor lobby will be open to the seat bowl, allowing people queuing for concessions or heading to the washroom to view the arena.
Baylor Athletics manager Mack Rhoades said there will be activities and a ‘tailgate’ atmosphere in the plaza in front of the pavilion during the city games and events.
“(There are) just a lot of opportunities to do some really cool stuff and bring the community together right outside the pavilion,” said Rhoades.
Starting in 2024, the Bears will have a much better chance of creating a big home advantage in every game.
Ford said the city needed to catch up with Baylor’s progress on the urban portion of the project, hence the related resolutions on Tuesday’s agenda to kick off the design work. He said the renderings showing the riparian area behind the arena are only conceptual. The sidewalk raising plans aim to limit disturbances when the river level rises due to precipitation or discharges from upstream reservoirs.
Ford said the development would turn the area into an “6pm” neighborhood that stays active 18 hours a day, not a neighborhood that goes to sleep after around 5 or 6 p.m., warranting more restaurants and shops. and longer hours for those. already there.
Deputy City Manager Paul Cain said the city may extend the life of Tax Rise Funding Zone 1, which is due to expire in 2032, until 2052 to support further development in the region. Part of the land tax revenue collected from the area is limited for use only in the area.
The so-called Baylor Bubble – a metaphorical barrier between life on campus and life in Waco – may still exist, but it’s pretty thin these days.
Part of the updated development plans also foresees an $ 80 million performing arts center in the city. Under the deal approved Tuesday, called a memorandum of understanding, Baylor would give the city $ 20 million over 10 years to help fund the performing arts center and $ 500,000 to help launch a science center, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The science center is planned across the river and upstream, in a building that now houses the Bledsoe-Miller Community Center, which the city will move to the former Doris Miller YMCA facility it now owns. The city will seek $ 65 million in area tax increase funding to support the arena, build parking garages and elevate the boardwalk between Franklin Avenue and Baylor Law School.
Council member Jim Holmes said the deal with Baylor University would boost business downtown and using the TIF money would help the area “feed itself” by generating more income.
Council member Andrea Barefield said her mother, former Mayor Mae Jackson, said Waco would become “what it is meant to be” when assets, including the riverside, are used properly.