Several projects got the green light for public Tax Increment Financing Zone subsidies at Tuesday night’s Waco City Council meeting, but the fate of some additional public parking still hangs in the balance.
The council approved a TIF board recommendation that gives $1.9 million to developers of a Hyatt Place at 301 S. Third St. but leaves out another $1.4 million the developers requested to use on 66 additional public parking spots in the hotel’s garage.
To get the money for parking, the developers would have to re-start their TIF application process.
“That, singularly, will start with a TIF application and then go back to council, for the parking specifically” District Four Councilman Dillon Meek said. “Everything else is moving forward.”
An Embassy Suites planned at 301 S. Second St. next to the Hyatt has already received council approval for almost $3 million in TIF money to pay for 141 public parking spots in its garage. That portion of the TIF grant was not in the Embassy Suites developers’ initial request.
“If the TIF contributes to parking, then it will be for public spaces,” Meek said. “It will ensure the public will have a floor or two of parking.”
The agenda packet for Tuesday’s meeting notes city staff recommended the TIF board reject the request from the Hyatt, in part because of input from City Center Waco’s Parking Alliance.
Meek said the hotel developments, which will include retail and restaurant space, and their neighbors will create a demand for public parking.
“I don’t think we’re going to regret making sure that there’s ample parking opportunities for people, specifically in places with this particular kind retail and development occurring,” he said.
Also Tuesday, the council voted for the second time to approve TIF grants for conversion of Washington Avenue to a two-way street through downtown and for work on creating a public plaza and festival space on Bridge Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The council approved $350,000 for engineering work on the Bridge Street project, which is in the area where a group of three hotels is planned with TIF backing. Plans include construction of a public plaza off of Elm Avenue and an adjacent “festival street” area, designed to be walkable and easily closed for events, on Bridge Street.
The city’s Public Works Department will also receive $1.2 million to convert a portion of Washington Avenue into a two-way street with upgraded traffic signals, sidewalks, accessibility, bike lanes with a bikeway barrier, parking spaces, and improved curbs and gutters.