An architectural design firm that developed a master plan for the Extraco Event Center site in 2010 will soon return before county leaders to discuss a planned redevelopment of the fairgrounds using a newly implemented venue tax.

McLennan County commissioners met Wednesday and discussed the need to hear from Populous about plans for the 60-acre fairgrounds off Bosque Boulevard and a proposal for the company to serve as master project architect for the new redevelopment, said Herb Bristow, an attorney with Haley & Olson P.C., a law firm retained by the county.

The county plans to issue a bond this fiscal year to cover as much of the $34.4 million project as possible. The project-specific bond would be repaid using revenue from new taxes voters approved earlier this year on short-term vehicle rentals and hotel stays.

“We’re well into developing the concepts behind what that project is going to look like,” Bristow said. “My sense is that we need to move forward under a project procurement process that would include putting the project together under a master project architect and construction manager at-risk type procurement that’s authorized under the Texas statutes.

“My sense is, is that is the most effective and efficient way to get this project delivered on time and within the budget confines that we are given and also give us the ability to have a master project architect oversee the project.”

Earlier this month, commissioners authorized 1519 Surveying LLC to start boundary survey work for the project. Sections of the 60-acre site are owned by the county, the city of Waco, and Waco Independent School District. The entities plan to swap land to make the most of the project.

Proposals for the overhaul include a $14 million, 800-square-foot multipurpose center connected to the existing coliseum, 300 new horse and livestock stalls, rebuilding Waco ISD’s Paul Tyson Field and the city’s Lake Air Little League facilities, and adding a creative arts building.

County Judge Scott Felton has said the venue tax is on track to bring in an average of $2 million a year. Revenue collections started for the 5 percent tax on short-term car rentals July 1 and the 2 percent hotel occupancy tax Aug. 1.

McLennan County voters approved the new taxes May 6, with 67.4 percent, or 2,856, voting in favor. Countywide turnout in the joint general election was 4,292 voters, less than 3.3 percent of the 130,830 registered voters.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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