A third hotel planned on Mary Avenue and a major expansion of Magnolia Market at the Silos each won recommendations Thursday for public backing from the downtown Tax Increment Financing Zone board.

The board recommended $1,063,198 for Magnolia Silos LLC to pay for drainage work and other public improvements associated with an expansion that will roughly double the size of Magnolia Market at the Silos, Sixth Street and Webster Avenue. The board also recommended $8,723,774 for various elements of an AC Hotel by Marriott just down the road at Sixth Street and Mary Avenue.

Magnolia’s expansion will include a “retail village” with a new main entrance to the complex, a coffee shop, furniture showroom and, if all goes well, a restored historical Waco church building. Magnolia initially planned to apply for TIF money at the board’s June meeting but temporarily withdrew.

Magnolia founders Chip and Joanna Gaines are restoring the former Second Presbyterian Church at 13th Street and Jefferson Avenue in hopes of moving the building to Magnolia Market and making it the complex’s second focal point, said Susie Wimberly, director of capital projects for Magnolia. The Gaineses’ company bought the abandoned building in 2017.

“We’ll still have our entrance over by the market, but in the master plan we are shifting so our new main entrance comes off of Eighth Street,” Wimberly said.

Work on the coffee shop and furniture showroom, housed in a building that most recently served as a CrossFit gym, is already well underway.

The expansion project will eat up one of the Silos’ gravel parking lots. Wimberly said a new gravel lot at Sixth Street and Jackson Avenue, still free and open to the public, will fill the void.

“We’ve got a committee that’s working on … some alternative parking options for our guests,” Wimberly said. “What we’re taking away from here is already replaced in that lot.”

The expansion also includes plans to pave parts of the complex now covered with gravel and to add water features and more out-of-the-way spots for guests to sit and relax.

In an effort to make lot lines parallel where one is angled now, Magnolia also plans to buy a small slice of land next to an AT&T building neighboring the complex. The companies have entered a maintenance agreement to make aesthetic changes to the AT&T building that will make it look more in keeping with Magnolia’s aesthetic.

The recommended TIF grant would cover 10.2% of the about $10.4 million total project cost.


Just down the street from the Silos is the site of a planned AC Hotel by Marriott, which will include conference center space, a restaurant with outdoor seating and a parking garage with 145 public parking spaces. The development would take the place of an Olmsted-Kirk Paper Co. building, which the company had previously announced plans to leave for another Waco location.

The five-story, 95,976-square-foot hotel will have 182 rooms and 16,963 square feet of conference center space with high ceilings meant to accommodate performances. The five-level parking garage will have a total of 327 parking spaces.

The board approved a city staff recommendation that SRH Hospitality Waco Downtown Investments LLC receive $8,723,774 of for facade and public improvements associated with the project. The TIF grant would cover 21.6% of the total project cost of more than $40 million.

SRH Hospitality CEO Paul Barham said the AC Marriott brand is a good fit for Waco’s population and needs.

“It’s a very much a hotel geared toward social business,” Barham said.

The project includes 18,000 square feet of commercial space in front of the parking garage, which will be at the back of the building.

Project manager David Pollack said the site at Sixth and Mary comes with some challenges. Disused railroad tracks limit the right-of-way, water lines serving the area will need to be replaced with larger ones and overhead power lines in the area will have to be buried.

“What Oncor told us was they really didn’t want to continue piecemeal downtown rectification of the insufficiency of the power system,” Pollack said. “That’s why Oncor is involved in a big way on this, they’re trying to resolve it for the neighborhood.”

The TIF recommendation includes $3.8 million for the public portion of the parking structure, $550,000 for the power lines and $638,000 for other utility upgrades.

Elsewhere on Mary Avenue downtown, a Hyatt Place and an Embassy Suites are also planned, each with TIF backing and parking garages with sections open to the public.

The TIF board’s recommendations will go to the Waco City Council for final approval.

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