Franklin Place, a retail and apartment development in downtown Waco, has placed half its development site on the market, according to city officials, and the developers lost access Thursday to $750,000 in Tax Increment Finance Zone funding.
Austin-based Realtex Development, the parent company of Franklin Place Apartments Ltd., leveled several buildings eight years ago in the 600 block of Franklin Avenue and built the 63-apartment complex with retail space on the ground floor. Realtex also announced plans for an $11.6 million second phase next to the existing building, on the land now listed for sale.
The TIF board gave $1.3 million in public money for the first phase and pledged $750,000 for the second phase.
But the TIF board agreed Thursday to cancel the commitment for the second phase at the urging of Melett Harrison, director of housing and economic development for the city of Waco. Franklin Place had been granted an extension to comply with TIF demands, “but to date construction has not commenced and now the property is being advertised for sale,” Harrison wrote in a letter to the board.
The TIF money for the second phase would have supported a new sidewalk along Sixth Street, connecting to TIF-funded sidewalks built by Magnolia Market at the Silos just down the street. Crumbling curb cuts and unpaved sections now fill that side of Sixth Street behind Franklin Place.
It is unclear how Thursday’s TIF board decision will affect plans for the sidewalks, said April Hull, a housing and economic development program coordinator for the city.
“It does not appear there is going to be a second phase of Franklin Place, though something else could come along in the future,” Hull said.
Franklin Place lies halfway between Magnolia Market at the Silos and the retail center on Austin Avenue, and the second phase would have helped fill in the gap between those areas of activity, City Center Waco Executive Director Megan Henderson has previously said. Henderson and Harrison were at a conference Thursday and unavailable for comment.
Realtex officials could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
City Planning Director Clint Peters said it is his understanding Franklin Place has been successful in filling its apartment units but not in securing retail users at an acceptable pace. Downstairs retail space has been claimed by Mainstream Boutique and Providence Express Care.
The $750,000 earmarked for Franklin Place’s second phase would be placed back in the TIF fund for use on other projects.
A Realtex for-sale sign has been posted on the vacant Franklin Place site earmarked for development, but it was not clear Thursday whether Realtex is attempting to sell only the vacant land or the entire complex.
The second phase reportedly would include 104 apartments, according to information on the Realtex website, which continues to mention Phase II of Franklin Place. Realtex advertises projects in Texas, Florida and Mississippi.