There’s an old saw that gets repeated with some frequency around Baylor.
It goes, “There’s nothing to do that’s fun around Waco.”
Well, to some extent that’s true. Encouraging growth downtown has been the goal of various organizations in Waco for nearly 50 years.
While we are sure that these various organizations have been doing their jobs to the best of their abilities, it seems that little progress has been made in the way of establishing a stable community of businesses and residences downtown.
Downtown has certainly grown recently, but it seems that there’s still not enough to attract a bustling group of students every night of the week or even reliably over the weekends.
However, it for all the work and input that has been gone into improving downtown one voice has been overlooked — the voice of students.
Waco has a fairly sizeable university right next to downtown, a large community college not far away and a technical college. All of these schools have students with money — some admittedly more than others — that they spend on entertainment and food. Tapping this market will be crucial to the revitalization of Waco’s downtown.
To that end, we have put together some suggestions of things that downtown Waco could use to get students downtown and get them to stay downtown: Dance hall, yoga studio, dueling piano bar, street food vendors, a riverboat, downtown trolley system, Pedicabs, Alamo Draft House-style theater, a dedicated outdoor concert venue, more boutique shops, a downtown grocery store, a convenience store, multiple walkup ATMs, a local all-night diner, jazz clubs, cheap food, a place to buy smokes and beverages, better public transportation, moderately priced dining and a good coffee shop/ hangout spot.
Like we said, just a few. There is obviously much more that can be done and some of these are less serious than others, but they all come from places with bustling city centers.
The walkup ATMs are especially important. When people eat their dinner and decide to walk around downtown to find something to do, incidental costs might arise and people need an easy way to get cash to spend.
Another important aspect is price.
So many downtown restaurants have failed to garner the business they needed for long-term survival because they were out of reach for many students and even most Wacoans. The Green Room, Sebas Cocina, Garrett’s and Gratziano’s — to name a few — have all been upscale downtown dining that failed to make the grade.
We need relatively cheap dining and entertainment downtown and everything that goes with it. That means we need easier ways to get downtown, easier ways to get money downtown, and more to do so our trips aren’t seemingly wasted on one mediocre meal.
Baylor students want to get involved in downtown life— we do. Its just not easy for us to justify the time and money right now.
Some of us already are, though. These pioneers are helping to shape the nature of the Baylor/Waco relationship and as a group may have a greater impact on Waco’s future than anyone in the past 50 years.
Read on as the Baylor Lariat explores what divides Baylor and Waco and what is bringing us together.