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Waco ISD school to become loft apartments near downtown, Baylor

Waco ISD school to become loft apartments near downtown, Baylor
February 25
00:32 2013
This photo shows the former historic 7-story Praetorian Insurance Company building built in 1915, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 in Waco,Texas. For months, work crews and scaffolding have held hostage the historic Praetorian building at South Sixth Street and Franklin Avenue. But now it is breaking the shackles associated with remodeling and living up to the potential that developer Peter Ellis saw in it. Artisans, including Ellis’ wife, Summer, are staking out space on the Praetorian’s fourth floor, where Anthem Studios awaits those with creative juices. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald,Jerry Larson)

This photo shows the former historic 7-story Praetorian Insurance Company building built in 1915, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 in Waco,Texas. For months, work crews and scaffolding have held hostage the historic Praetorian building at South Sixth Street and Franklin Avenue. But now it is breaking the shackles associated with remodeling and living up to the potential that developer Peter Ellis saw in it. Artisans, including Ellis’ wife, Summer, are staking out space on the Praetorian’s fourth floor, where Anthem Studios awaits those with creative juices. (AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald,Jerry Larson)

By Mike Copeland
Waco Tribune-Herald via Associated Press

Developer Jerry Dyer, who is making a mark on downtown Waco with his Franklin Place retail and housing venture, has another project in mind.

Dyer confirmed he hopes to buy the Waco Independent School District’s alternative school campus, 805 S. Eighth St., and convert it into space for loft apartments, while retaining its historic look.

Dyer and Austin-based Realtex Development Corp. have signed a contract to purchase the 50,794-square-foot school, which the school district shuttered and designated as surplus property.

The deal will close if Dyer agrees to proceed after performing his due diligence.

“I am considering a condo-loft conversion that would preserve the structure,” Dyer said.

THC guidelines

He said he is pursuing a designation from the Texas Historical Commission that would allow him to receive tax credits on his investment if he follows THC guidelines.

He said he thinks he could place about 45 lofts in the building, which is one of several properties WISD is selling or has sold across Interstate 35 from the Baylor University campus with the help of real estate agents Jason Attas and Jim Peevey at Central Texas Commercial.

If and when the deal closes on the alternative school, WISD would receive $510,000.

“We’re really starting to see some really positive developments in that area and we want to be part of it,” Dyer said.

Other developments

The Sul Ross Elementary site, 901 S. Seventh St., was bought by DeLeon Capital of Dallas, which plans to will raze the building to create five restaurant pad sites. Chick-fil-A reportedly has expressed interest in locating there.

Meanwhile, the first phase of a project called Tinsley Place is about to proceed on a vacant tract at South Seventh Street and Cleveland Avenue. Investors hope to have 30 townhomes completed by Aug. 1, said Matt McCollum, who is marketing the site.

Crews will level several older homes between Seventh and Eighth streets and Cleveland and Ross avenues, with work scheduled to begin as early as this week, McCollum said.

He said Tinsley Place eventually will accommodate up to 200 townhomes on six acres. The units will have one, two or three bedrooms and lease for $995 to $1,450 a month.

“We are targeting young professionals, graduate students and empty nesters,” McCollum said, “and we’re getting a lot of inquiries.”

Dyer said Saturday he and his investors recently bought the decades-old Waco Labor Temple building at 702 Franklin Ave.

He intends to refurbish the bottom floor and lease it back to the temple, and convert the second and third floors to loft space after major renovations.

He said he will pursue Tax Increment Financing funds from the city of Waco to help with the project.

“We’re basically taking a dilapidated building that has had no upgrades in probably 60 years and doing something positive with it,” he said.

Site work continues on the $9.2 million first phase of Franklin Place, a mixed-use development bounded by Franklin and Mary avenues and South Sixth and Seventh streets. It will feature 10,000 square feet of retail space, 63 apartment units, a fitness center, pool and on-site leasing center.

“Our finish-out work will include a grease trap and exhaust system for use by a restaurant,” Dyer said.

That project so far has received $1.3 million in TIF money. Dyer plans a second phase “that basically would mirror the first.”

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