Wednesday, April 23, 2008
In the next year, there will be the unprecedented addition of more than 150,000 sf of Class A office space in downtown Waco with more to come, according to Chris McGowan, director of urban development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. A majority of the space being developed is speculative Class A lease space. Another major trend is the development of close to 400 acres of professional and medical parks in the southwest corridor of Waco. Within a two-mile radius, construction of Class A lease space for ancillary medical and professional services is growing. The completion of the $48.5 million Providence Health Center expansion, the construction of Hillcrest Health System's $184 million campus and the announcement of a $48 million expansion by the Central Texas VA Health System are driving development. Significant business park additions in the Southwest area include Central Professional Park, Legends Crossing, Point West and Ridgewood Professional Park. At full capacity, these developments forecast the addition of 650,000 sf of professional and medical office buildings, McGowan said. In addition to this new development, several leases recently have closed in the Southwest corridor. Waco Center for Women's Health and Heart of Texas Pediatrics leased 18,000 sf and 12,000 sf, respectively, in the Central Texas Medical Center. Jackson Health Care completed a 10,000-sf lease in the Texas Central Park. There is considerable interest in downtown office development, partly due to the nationwide trend toward downtown revitalization and partly due to a strong commitment from local leaders in both the public and private sectors to ensure a healthy sustainable future for our urban areas. The renovation of the historic Roosevelt Hotel into Class A office space in downtown Waco; the construction of the new mixed-use Waco Town Square; the new Chamber of Commerce headquarters; and a new Wells Fargo Bank building all within a block of each other are leading the way in the office market as a part of the resurgence of downtown Waco. The range for Class A rental rates downtown currently is $1.25 to $1.55 NNN. The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has recently announced its goal of realizing a Billion Dollar Decade. By bringing together key investors, and working under a common vision, the chamber predicts $1 billion of new development in downtown Waco and along the Brazos River corridor. More than $120 million of new private investment has been announced in downtown Waco over the past year. Coupling that with a large public commitment totaling more than $200 million of new public improvements in the same area begins to paint a picture of a very bright future for downtown Waco.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
(Riesel) - Construction is underway on Sandy Creek Energy Station, a 900-megawatt coal-fired power plant just outside of Riesel. The stack will one day be a prominent sight on the eastern McLennan County horizon. Once completed at 360 feet high, it will be almost 60 feet taller than downtown Waco's ALICO building. It's the first major structure on the 700-acre spread off Rattlesnake Road, two miles west of Riesel. After another ten to 12 months of earth moving and utility installation, workers will start putting steel in the ground as they construct the plant's boiler house. Already, about 110 construction workers are employed at the site. By 2010, about 1,200 people will work at the plant during the peak of construction to make it operational by 2012. After it is built, the plant will employ about 100 people full time. Zachry Construction, the project's top contractor, starts its general laborers at $9.50 and $11 an hour. Wages range upward from there.
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Sunday, April 20, 2008
Just west of Heritage Square, construction has begun on the million-dollar concrete slab for the Austin Avenue Flats. It's an apt symbol for downtown's redevelopment, which has been years in the making but is only now beginning to bloom. Tens of millions of dollars in new businesses, construction projects and building renovations are already underway. This year alone, downtown will see the completion of a new headquarters for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the first 47 luxury condos in the $75 million mixed-use development around Heritage Square. Work will begin next month on a 368-bed upscale student housing complex as part of the same project. The $17 million renovation of the Waco Hilton will wrap up next month, and the $17.5 million reinvention of the Waco Convention Center will begin this fall. And the ripple effect is spreading several blocks up Austin Avenue, where an art gallery, a new restaurant, loft apartments, offices and a major bar/music venue are in various stages of development. The City of Waco and two downtown special tax districts have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure projects around town over the past two decades. Private investors have done multimillion-dollar projects such as RiverSquare Center, Behrens Lofts and the Insurors of Texas building. David Wallace's group also is developing the student housing component across Washington Avenue from the mixed-use project, next door to the Courtyard by Marriott. Wallace pulled permits on the $22.3 million student housing project this week and plans to begin work in the next 30 days. The complex is set to open in fall 2009. The five-story student housing complex will have several rows of parking in front, as well as parking under the building.