A new effort to brighten up downtown at night is rolling out this week in 16 million color combinations.
A pilot program is bringing LED strips to the tops of select buildings, including the Roosevelt Tower, Stone’s Throw and a few buildings on Austin Avenue.
Downtown officials say the illumination from Inception Lighting in Arlington will bring a more festive atmosphere to downtown and help define districts within downtown.
The lights look like Christmas lights from a distance but are permanently wired in and adjustable by a phone app, said Jeffrey Vitarius, a finance and administration official for City Center Waco.
“The lighting contribution in terms of lumens is fairly limited on the street, but it will help serve as a sign there’s something to see,” Vitarius said.
The downtown Public Improvement District is contributing about $30,000 in this fiscal year to provide matching funds to property owners who want the lighting. The district is funded by a special assessment on downtown property owners and does not use general property tax.
The lighting costs $22 per linear foot to install. With the PID footing half the bill, it’s worth every penny, said businessman Brian Ginsburg, who is having lights installed on his buildings in the 800 block of Austin Avenue, including the Hey Sugar candy store.
“When you see those lights, it’s pretty amazing,” Ginsburg said. “If property owners can buy into it, it will bring some color to downtown.”
Inception Lighting founder Scott Eddins said the LED lights are five times brighter than standard Christmas lights and use about a third of the energy. The company has installed the lighting in cities including San Marcos, Grapevine, Grand Prairie and Denton.
Eddins said some cities coordinate the colors for different occasions. For example, downtown Grapevine turned its lights orange to celebrate a Kubota plant opening.
In Waco, property owners will have access to the app that will allow them to change the color of their lights, but downtown officials hope to coordinate the colors for different districts of downtown.
Trent Weaver, owner of the Stone’s Throw development at University Parks Drive and Franklin Avenue, watched Tuesday as workers finished and tested lights on his building. The complex includes Bangkok Royal, Sub Zero Ice Cream, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and other businesses.
“Lights are something that create an atmosphere of entertainment and fun,” Weaver said. “I think it’s a great next step with everything else happening downtown.”