New downtown Waco mixed-use development planned for Franklin Avenue

Construction on a new commercial and residential development is slated to begin within two to four months.

More residences are planned for downtown, with a soon-to-be-built development on Franklin Avenue.

Franklin Place, an $18 million mixed-use development, is to be located on the east side of Franklin between South Sixth and Seventh streets. Construction is slated to begin in two to four months, said Shane Turner, a partner with 921 Partners LLC, which is funding the project.

The city’s Tax Increment Finance Zone board on Monday unanimously approved $2.5 million in tax benefits for Franklin Place, said Mike Harder, chairman of the TIF board.

The money is to be used for infrastructure improvements to aid in the development.

Franklin Place will have a brick facade. The building will have commercial and residential development and will stand four stories tall with a modern look, Turner said. Four buildings on the property will have to be removed, he added.

The Tax Increment Finance Zone was created to reinvest tax revenue from downtown and the Brazos corridor into public improvements in that area. All city, school, county and community college tax revenue generated from property value added since 1982 goes into the fund.

The TIF board, which includes representatives from the taxing entities, recommends projects to the city council for approval.

The projects can include public works, such as sidewalks, landscaping and light posts, or external improvements to private buildings.

The TIF board typically will match 15 to 20 percent of private investments for such projects.

Shane Turner and his brother, Cody Turner, received $73,875 in 2008 to help renovate an abandoned building in the 700 block of Austin Avenue. The building now includes Suit City and upscale lofts.

This latest project will have to go through a zoning review, Waco Assistant City Manager George Johnson said.

Shane Turner said about 20 percent of the development will be commercial. The housing units will be on leases, he said.

The project will be an important part of the city’s goal to rejuvenate downtown, said Chris McGowan, the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce’s director of urban development.

“It’s going to be a really great addition to downtown,” McGowan said.

Shane Turner said his company is optimistic about downtown and new developments such as the Austin Avenue Flats and Austin Avenue shops.

“It’s progressing at a good pace,” Turner said. “We’ve been wanting to do a downtown project for a long time.”

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