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Waco: Council Approves TIF Funds for 10K-Square Foot Prospective Commercial Building

Featured Illustration (above): A rendering of the planned repair and conversion of a 103-year-old building at 729 Washington Ave. into new retail and office lease space. Image: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

Posted: 1-8-20

By Edmond Ortiz

Waco (McLennan County)–City Council on Jan. 7 passed on first reading an ordinance supporting the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Zone  funds for the renovation of a century-old 10,000-square-foot, two-story building that will provide downtown Waco with new retail and commercial lease space.

The firm Washington Partners Ltd. is leading the project to restore and convert the nearly 103-year-old, tan brick structure at 729 Washington Ave. A small storage area was added to the building, but the structure has not undergone significant additions since. It has stood vacant for at least 10 years.

Officials with Washington Partners said their plan is to rehabilitate the building to increase the retail presence and foot traffic on Washington, and to bring a new Type-A office space into the local market.

The first floor will support retail, while the second floor will accommodate an open office layout with storage space and a small conference room.

The project will include outdoor enhancements such as planters, a patio and benches. Michael Hsu Office of Architecture from Austin is the project designer.

The 729 Washington Ave. building, as is. Image: Google Streets/2016.

In a December memo to TIF zone board members, city Economic Development Director Melett Harrison said Washington Partners had requested $514,960 for  public improvements associated with the renovation and conversion project.

Those improvements will cover public domain infrastructure and exterior upgrades–sidewalks, lighting and a traffic signal, architectural enhancements such as an improved entrance, window replacements, and an awning removal.

City staff recommended granting the developer their full funding request, with $308,960 being reimbursed after the infrastructure improvements are completed and given approval by the city.

The remainder of the TIF money will be paid after final release of a certificate of occupancy. The contract term will be four years, including this year of construction, which is slated to be finished by summer or early fall.

The project must be under contract within six months of final council approval; that will occur by the end of this month. Washington Partners will spend $1.33 million on the project.

Washington Partners is a limited company whose principals include Gordon Robinson, a local investor who has worked with more than 50 companies and ventures.

Elevation of front of 729 Washington Ave. Image: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture


edmond@virtualbx.com

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About the Author:

Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.

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