By Amanda Yarger
Plans to build on the riverside area known as the Brazos Commons next to McLane Stadium will commence on March 16 when the city releases a call for proposals to possible investors.
Following news of the plans to erect McLane Stadium, the area surrounding the land plot was deemed equally valuable by prospective investors. In 2013, two investors shared their intention of building a multimillion-dollar retail and hotel center along the Brazos River.
Plans were ultimately rejected by the city due to lack of funding.
Although Waco has multiple shopping centers around the city, the closest full retail shopping center is a 10-minute car ride away to Central Texas Marketplace on 2400 W Loop 340.
Austin freshman Sumbal Ali said transportation plays a huge role in why she cannot shop in Waco frequently.
“I don’t have a car,” she said. “I needed professional attire for a business event and it was hard to arrange it in a day. It would be awesome to have something like that there.”
Other benefits of developing the Brazos Commons property would be the tourism that such additions could draw in to those driving by the area, as well as prospective students, Austin senior Erika Wright said.
“Clothing, something similar to Spice Village, would be nice,” Wright said. “It’s really close to campus and it could be a tourist attraction for people visiting and buying souvenirs. It could be good for parents, too.”
Original plans for the area included a Rice Village-esque plaza consisting of hotels, restaurants, a movie theater and a shopping center, according to the rejected plans by Rick Sheldon and Joe Beard, the initial developers.
Rice Village consists of 16 blocks alongside the Rice University campus, which includes shopping, restaurants and bars to serve the Rice and Houston communities.
“Definitely if they added movie theaters, it would take away my business from other places,” Wright said.
Since there are four theaters in Waco, Wright said she is leery that one right next to campus would draw away customers.
“If there were a mall and outlet stores, it would take away my business from Richland [Mall],” she also said.
Wendy Gragg, chief content officer for Chisholm Crossing, a site devoted to promotion of downtown Waco events and businesses, said the recent growth of downtown provides exciting opportunities for continued success.
“I’d be excited to see the ideas that some professionals might have for the area and what proposals come forward,” Gragg said. “Hopefully there is more than one. There’s so much excitement about the area.”
Gragg, who works with the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, said the popularity of the farmers market also aims to keep growing with the Brazos Commons area.
“I’m excited for the great ideas people have for making downtown even more fun,” she said. “More of a place to draw people from the suburbs and to downtown.”