By Kalli Damschen
The Business Resource Center will hold four community meetings throughout Waco next week to gather insight about updates to Imagine Waco, the plan for development in greater downtown Waco.
The Imagine Waco Plan was adopted in 2010 and has since influenced a number of projects in the downtown area, including new bike lanes, the Hippodrome, Franklin Place, Dichotomy, Lula Jane’s, Muddle, Tinsley Place and Barnett’s Pub. Other projects are still ongoing.
One of these ongoing projects is the Stratton Building, which is in the early stages of its transformation from a vacant building to a downtown arts and dining center.
“The goal of the Imagine Waco Plan is to put into clear and actionable terms the collective vision of the community for its downtown,” said Business Resource Center Executive Director Megan Henderson.
Because the majority of the projects are still ongoing, Henderson said it may seem like little progress has been made.
“I know it can seem like all we do is plan,” said Willard Still, president of the Business Resource Center. “Every time we turn around we’re studying something else, and it’s not always clear how those plans are implemented. That’s why it’s important for the community to know how deeply their feedback, as reflected in the Imagine Waco Plan, has made its way into the decisions of public and private sector entities – and into the landscape of downtown buildings, businesses and public spaces.”
Fort Worth graduate student Preston Rucker is an intern at the Business Resource Center through the Baylor School of Social Work. Rucker also points out that the Imagine Waco Plan has been useful throughout the past five years.
“The plan isn’t something that was developed in 2010 and just sat on a shelf somewhere,” Rucker said. “ It’s a plan that has been actively used. Some of that work has been unseen, behind-the-scenes, involved in policy. Other times it’s been very proactive in saying these are the stated goals we have in mind.”
The community meetings next week will allow the Business Resource Center to gain input from the community about updates to the Imagine Waco Plan.
“Now that we’ve had nearly 70 percent of those action plans in either a completion phase or in some sort of a work phase, it’s time to update that plan again,” Rucker said.
Rucker said the Business Resource Center is “a nonprofit organization that works to provide catalytic projects that develop downtown Waco.”
The first meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the Jubilee Theatre. Tuesday’s meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The third meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, and the final meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Eastern Waco Development Corporation.
“We really need the community’s input to continue the movement of revitalization,” said Business Resource Center Main Street Manager LaRaine DuPuy, “and we want to make sure that the community is involved because they live here, they work here, they play here. It’s crucial that they are involved with the future development.”