By Rebecca Flannery
Hopes for the Brazos Riverwalk business sector’s growth have been put on hold as negotiations between Brazos Riverfront Development, Ltd., and the city of Waco have been suspended.
The proposed Brazos Riverfront project was suggested by partners Rick Sheldon and Joe Beard last August as a possible development to include seven restaurants, a movie theater, retail space and condominiums, said Mike Anderson, project coordinator for the Riverfront Development.
“A lot of the space we’ve been looking at building on is considered ‘park land’,” Anderson said. “Park land regulates that no restaurants can be built upon it and that was one of our main concerns for this project.”
The project was set to cost nearly $180 million at its start and has since climbed to $300 million, said Dale Fisseler, Waco city manager. The city was willing to put up $57 million in public funding to aid the project, Fisseler said.
Land surveyors and an investigation of the 22-acre span along the Brazos have created some obstacles for the developers, who have spent $1 million already on research. Rubble suspected to be left over from a 1953 Waco tornado would need to be cleared, Fisseler said.
In addition, some financial backers have withdrawn their support for the project in order to support real estate projects elsewhere, Fisseler said.
“We’ve suspended negotiations until the end of the year,” Fisseler said. “We’re very pleased with their proposal and hope they will be able to make some adjustments.”
At the year’s end, the city will put out a new request for proposals for land development. Sheldon and Beard were the sole proposers last year when the city held a meeting asking for development ideas for the land along the Brazos.
According to the developer’s website, the land is still being considered as one of their major projects to complete.
According to the Rick Sheldon Real Estate, LLC’s website, the land is in the development phase, but they hope to add restaurants, shops and residential uses to revitalize downtown Waco.
Anderson said as far as the commitment of a hotel company, the Brazos Riverfront Development would be more likely to go through with their project plans.
“We’re being perused by a major hotel,” Anderson said. “Getting a commitment from them would really kick it off.”
Anderson said their plans for a condominium tower and restaurants will have to be changed around to accommodate their research and financing, but he is hopeful they will remain part of the city’s project.
“Rick Sheldon, LLC is still committed to the project,” Anderson said.