The Brazos Commons riverfront project that received a $7.9 million Tax Increment Financing Zone board approval for public investment still has a $7 million funding gap that developers hope the county will help cover.

Developers Brazos Commons LLC have proposed a $120 million riverfront development adjacent to the Brazos Promenade in downtown Waco, said Kris Collins, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for economic development. The development would include residential properties, retail, conference center and a full-service hotel called Drury Plaza.

Brazos Commons received Waco TIF board approval for $7.9 million for infrastructure improvement needed for the project, however there is still a $7 million funding gap for the total project, Collins said. While the TIF board gave the approval, the Waco City Council must still approve the recommendation. The council is scheduled to hear the recommendation in December.

“Brazos Commons is considered a catalyst, transformational project for Waco and the riverfront development,” Collins said.

The Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corp. is being asked to consider funding up to $3.5 million of that $7 million, Collins said. County and city of Waco leaders dedicate money to the economic fund each year.

Every time local business leaders meet to discuss area priorities, the main topic is riverfront development, said Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce president Matt Meadors. The development will create an investment in the community that will create more tax revenues and opportunities for all businesses, he said.

Six local hotel managers and owners asked county commissioners to not make a decision without including them in discussions.

They expressed concerns about using public funds to support the private enterprise.

Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler, however, said commissioners would find that many of the hotel owners and managers that spoke also received incentives for their property.

Collins said the county’s investment would bring more than $2 million in new revenue over a 10-year period.

County Judge Scott Felton said commissioners would discuss the matter more at a future meeting.

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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