Developers showcased pedestrian safety, landscaping and the principles of urban design Wednesday night at a meeting addressing the public-use elements of the first phase of the Brazos Promenade riverfront project.
Catalyst Urban Development co-founder Paris Rutherford told some 75 people at the Texas Life Annex downtown about the potential for the Waco Downtown Farmers Market space in the development and six blocks of University Parks Drive from Franklin Avenue to Interstate 35.
“It’s diversifying the offerings of downtown, but it’s all consistently urban, which is good,” Rutherford said.
Construction on the project is scheduled to start in September or October. Once all phases are complete, the development on land leased from the city is slated to also include a full-service hotel and restaurant, a destination restaurant and music venue, mixed-use residential space and more amenities.
The farmers market area could include a dog park, a kids’ play area, a food truck space and an event lawn for informal gatherings, Rutherford said. Work on the farmers market area is expected to last two years.
On non-market days, the space would be open for weddings, car shows and other events.
At its core, the project is meant to emphasize public-use space in the historical area that has taken years to plan, even before Catalyst Urban Development reached a deal with the city.
“We’re not trying to create a retail environment in the middle of the park,” Rutherford said.
Waco City Councilman Jim Holmes said he is encouraged by what he heard Wednesday.
“Getting people back into the farmers market and creating that buzz down on the riverfront, I think, is important,” Holmes said.
Work planned for University Parks Drive is intended to make the stretch easier to walk. Widened medians with landscaping, space for trolleys and improved sidewalks are intended to slow traffic speeds.
“We want that to evolve into something that feels more interactive,” Rutherford said.
Holmes also said the development could bridge something of a gap between Baylor University and the main sections of downtown.
“Getting folks from Baylor to downtown by walking, driving, and with more trees, I think the connectivity is going to bring economic benefit,” he said.
Participants filled out comment sheets Rutherford collected after Wednesday’s meeting. A second public input session will be scheduled for the first week of next month, he said.