Public weighs in on Waco riverfront development

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 16:41:14-04

The future of the downtown Waco riverfront up for debate had city leaders hear from the public about what people want to see, and how they want it to look... since taxpayers will have a huge stake in its success.

Developers unveiled some ambitious plans tonight, but several people want the city to carefully consider its impact before sealing a development deal.

Gary Lee Dean likes to come down to the Brazos River in the afternoons because he feels close to nature here.

He also knows the City of Waco has big plans for his little slice of heaven.

"They're gonna put hotels down here, probably eating places and entertainment venues," Dean said.

And that's just the kind of things developers unveiled to the public Wednesday night, for feedback at the Texas Life Annex.

"Along the way, I'm going to be asking for your opinions,” said Paris Rutherford of Catalyst Urban Development, to the crowd.

The plan includes sprucing up the park along the Brazos and adding attractions that bring people here to dine and enjoy the view.

"There's the private development that we're bringing, which is housing, hotel, restaurant, etc. and then they very important public component,” said Rutherford. 

Most of the private development will locate closer to University Parks Drive, but a hotel and restaurant could sit right near the river's edge.

Developers say they plan to make the Farmer's Market a priority along with saving several old oak trees.

Catalyst Urban Development, chosen by city leaders to helm the project, wants it to become a showplace and a source of pride for Waco.

"In order for this to be successful, the citizens of Waco need to embrace it and love it and we're designing it that way,” said Rutherford. 

He hopes the project will draw more people to the river to enjoy its calming vistas, just the way it does Gary Lee Dean

And while Dean doesn't mind the company, he wants Waco leaders to take a close look at the plans before committing to changes.

"I'd say think about it before you make a final decision because people love the atmosphere here, just like it is,” said Dean.

He says he'd support a balance of some development as long as it doesn't disrupt the peace and quiet here too much.

Some construction on the public and privately funded riverfront project could start this fall and could take about two years to complete.

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