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East Waco looking to the future after lawsuit surrounding building dismissed

Train Waco East
Posted at 8:11 PM, Jul 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 01:49:19-04

WACO, TX — A McLennan County judge recently dismissed a lawsuit that, it seemed, everyone in Central Texas had their eye on.

The judge ruled a group of East Waco residents had "no standing" to bring a lawsuit to stop the sale of an old grocery store to a very different kind of business for that neighborhood.

For some, it became a rallying cry. For others a sign that, like it or not, their neighborhood had begun to change.

It began with an old grocery store building, and the crossfit gym that moved into it one year ago. Two women sued to stop what they called the "gentrification" of East Waco.

A year later, when a judge dismissed the case, the picnic table at Carla Dotson's foot truck started buzzing. "There's mixed take on it. There's some sadness because it got dismissed," said Dotson.

But perhaps the lawsuit had a bigger impact outside of court. It brought attention to the many changes happening here.

"This community cares about the building, and cares about what its uses are," said Megan Henderson of City Center Waco, a part of city government that worked hard to get neighborhood input on its many East Waco projects.

From community forums to discussion groups, the city sought ideas to preserve the character of historic Elm Avenue.

What's next for East Waco? Entertainment and performance spaces along historic Bridge Avenue. City Center Waco unveiled its plans a couple months go for this street, which already has one business open.

The City also recently finished a sidewalk makeover of the 700 block of Elm.

All that, as the building that started it all goes up for sale. The crossfit gym will soon move out, putting all eyes right back here.

”City Center Waco will be watching, and hopefully being able to influence if we can, what goes into that building," said Henderson.

Because now that the neighbors understand the changes coming, they want changes that bring jobs and services they need. "They want to see some things happen differently here," said Dotson.

And hopefully they will. As Jeanette Bell, president of the Northeast Riverside Neighborhood Association said, with the distraction of the building's ownership settled, East Waco can get down to more important things