Waco Plan Commission votes unanimously to approve downtown design plan

The commission will next recommend the plan to the Waco City Council, which will consider it in February.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:27 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:48 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Torn-up roads, detours, and caution tape may fill downtown Waco’s streets right now, but it’s all part of a bigger downtown implementation plan that the city has created to guide aesthetic standards and traffic flow.

On Tuesday night, after nearly a year in the making, the Waco Plan Commission voted unanimously on its approval at the Waco Convention Center’s Bosque Theater.

“We wanted to get some consistency and harmony in the downtown,” Amy Hyland, the Public Works director for the city of Waco, told KWTX. :”So we wanted to have a plan that would provide us with some general guidelines with how things should look when people are doing construction work in the city.”

Aside from bench designs, where to plant trees for shade and making streets more pedestrian friendly, some key features of the plan include making Mary Avenue a festival street, as well as adding greenery to University Parks Drive.

Hyland says making these changes will attract even more folks to the area in the future.

“I think it’ll make things even more attractive for businesses to want to come down here, and also for people to want to come down here and frequent those businesses,” Hyland said. “So in my view, it’s gonna be all positive except for the pain of when we’re going through the construction.”

Local businesses in the area have certainly felt that pain. For one employee of a local craft and design store, the construction has impacted her ability to get to work.

“Sometimes it’s harder to get into work,” Sophia Ogea, and employee at Paper Crown, told KWTX. “Random roads will be closed.”

But ultimately, the businesses in the area agree with Hyland: that a revamped downtown will create greater economic prosperity for them, and the city, in the long run.

“I’m excited to see more continuity between areas and collaboration,” Peter Ellis, co-owner of Summer Ellis Jewelry, said. “And I’m looking forward to, really just that next development cycle for Waco.”