The Baylor University Board of Regents almost exactly one year ago voted to demolish two apartment complexes on the edge of campus.
Those properties now are becoming mounds of scrap and rubble, leveled by yellow-colored heavy equipment sitting quietly in the rain late Wednesday afternoon. The complexes were Cottonwood and Baylor Plaza I and II, built in the late 1970s, according to a press release Baylor issued last February. They would have arrived shortly after Baylor won its first Southwest Conference championship in 50 years, achieving that feat in 1974.
Baylor shuttered the units after the spring semester last year, paving the way for demolition now taking place. The school said the buildings needed repairs that would cost close to $7 million. That cost combined with a slipping occupancy rate prompted Baylor officials to sign off on demolition.
School spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said Wednesday that to her knowledge Baylor’s intentions have not changed. The land near First, Second and Cottonwood streets, and near Daughtrey Avenue, is going to become a combined 8.4 acres of green space.
“There is nothing planned at this time,” Fogleman said.
Students living in the apartments, notified of Baylor’s plans, were offered a $250 moving credit and assistance to choose another Baylor-owned property, according to the press release the school issued last year.
Demolition initially was scheduled to start last summer.
Baylor for years has taken steps to create green space or room for expansion.
The Baylor-area International House of Pancakes restaurant near Fourth Street and Interstate 35 closed in January 2019. Baylor bought the land as part of an 8-acre acquisition in 2002 that included the nearby Ivy Square shopping center at University Parks Drive and an interstate frontage road.
Ivy Square is long gone, having been leveled to create green space, as Baylor University announced. The IHOP area, meanwhile, has been targeted to become home to the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, a 50,000-to-60,000-square-foot complex “designed to create interest and enthusiasm in the university through a high-tech and interactive experience,” Baylor announced in a press release. The school went on to say it will serve as “the epicenter for academic, cultural and social activities.”
Regents meeting in Waco Friday will take part in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the welcome center, even as the Texas Department of Transportation remains in the midst of widening I-35 through the city, a $341 million project.