Waco: City Approves $150 million in Bonds for Projects at Baylor University
Feature Photo: An artist rendering of Baylor’s proposed welcome center by Populous.
by Art Benavidez
Waco (McLennan County) — City Council approved a bond issuance through its Waco Education Finance Corporation of up to $150 million for projects at Baylor University, during Tuesday’s meeting.
The university asked that the Waco Education Finance Corporation–a higher education finance corporation created by the city–issue the bonds to finance, and refinance the costs of certain educational facilities, housing facilities and other improvements.
These improvements include the costs of constructing and equipping the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center and the costs of renovating and equipping the Collins, Memorial and Alexander Residence Halls.
The Waco Education Finance Corporation recommended the issuance during a May 28 public hearing.
The university held a groundbreaking ceremony for the $75 million Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center in February.
In May, the Baylor University Board of Regents approved construction of the center.
The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will feature a 120,000-square-foot complex designed to create interest and enthusiasm in the university through a high-tech and interactive experience.
The center will be located at the corner of Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive, and serve as the hub for the approximately 60,000 prospective students, families, alumni and other guests who currently visit the campus.
Strategic development of the property surrounding the welcome center is anticipated to include businesses that will solidify the center as a travel and visitor destination for both Baylor and the Waco community.
Major features of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will include:
Grand Hall – Light-filled, expansive space that provides an open door to campus for prospective students and alumni, interactive exhibits and a connection point for Baylor’s past and future.
Admissions Lobby – Inviting space welcoming prospective students and their families to Baylor.
Ballroom – A 1,000-seat venue designed to host presentations and dinners, with the ability to convert into smaller meeting spaces for students and alumni.
Spirit Shop – Fan-themed, high-end retail space with the latest Baylor apparel.
Restaurant – Healthy food fare in a Baylor-themed space.
Auditorium – A suspended, 250-seat venue that opens up to a stunning view of Pat Neff Hall and the Baylor campus.
Admissions Offices – Collaborative space designed for engagement with prospective students and families.
Alumni Offices – New permanent home for Baylor Alumni staff as they serve the University’s 150,000 living alumni.
Exterior Terrace – Shaded, outdoor breezeway provides views of McLane Stadium and the Brazos River, while also offering covered space for alumni receptions.
Central Green – Green space for outdoor events and concerts.
Pavilion on the Green – Bright, window-filled pavilion that anchors the Central Green as a welcoming venue for student meetings, alumni and donor events.
Site work began this summer and the project is expected to be completed in May 2023. The architectural firm Populous is on board the project.
In May, the Baylor University Board of Regents also approved resuming the master plan for campus residence hall renovations, including Phase I design and pre-construction plans for a $38.5 million renovation of Collins Hall and a $35 million renovation of Memorial and Alexander Halls, which house Honors College students.
Renovation of Collins Hall is expected to begin in May 2022, with completion in summer 2023. Renovation of Memorial and Alexander is expected to begin in May 2023, with completion in summer 2024.
Street view of Collins Hall. Image: Google Streets.
Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, Central Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UT-RGV.