WACO, TX — The Baylor University Board of Regents met virtually today and approved the $9 million purchase of three commercial properties located on nearly two acres in downtown Waco.
The properties, which include existing structures and parking areas, are located at 801, 811 and 821 Washington Ave.
Baylor currently leases space in these properties for a number of University programs, including the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.
Based on its existing lease agreements with the property owners, Baylor had the right of first refusal to purchase the properties should the owners decide to sell.
At the recommendation of the University, the Board of Regents determined that the purchase of these key properties improves Baylor’s long-term financial position by owning versus leasing facilities that can be used for much-needed academic space now and into the future, while also advancing Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan, as part of the University’s pursuit of Tier 1/Research 1 status.
“Baylor wasn’t seeking this purchase, but when the owners entertained selling the properties, we, as a Board, had to take a look at the University’s long-term space needs and compare those needs to the opportunity before us,” said Board Chair Mark Rountree, BBA ’86, MTA ’87. “For nearly a decade, Baylor has strategically positioned itself in downtown Waco by leasing space in these buildings. By owning these properties – instead of leasing – we improve our financial position, and we continue to invest in and strengthen our relationship with the City of Waco.”
A breakdown of the properties:
- 801 Washington Ave. – sometimes referred to as the “Baylor Tower” – includes a 10-story, 64,779-square-foot building and an adjacent four-level parking garage with 236 parking spaces.
- 811 Washington Ave., which houses the Garland School of Social Work and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, is a three-story, 44,813-square-foot building and includes 55 surface-level parking spaces.
- 821 Washington Ave. is a one-story building with 9,713 square feet of space. This building is the current location of the DPT program in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.
Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said the purchase is a solid step in the University’s pursuit of T1/R1 status and the Illuminate strategic plan.
“One of the four pillars of Illuminate is ‘Research and Scholarship Marked by Quality, Impact and Visibility.’ We believe the purchase of these properties in downtown Waco provides integral academic space to help increase our teaching and research capabilities,” Livingstone said. “In terms of visibility, we will house Baylor academic programs, initiatives and support services in these buildings that help define the Waco skyline.
“Baylor is always seeking opportunities to strengthen the relationship with our home city of Waco. Having a concrete, significant presence downtown where Baylor students, faculty and staff can work, attend classes and socialize is just one more way to solidify that town-gown relationship.”
In May 2010, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the relocation of the School of Social Work from the main campus to the former Wells Fargo Bank building at 811 Washington Ave.