Waco, Texas, a city smack dab in the middle of the Lonestar State, famous for its storied history, beloved Baylor Bears, and of course, Chip and Joanna Gaines.
However, the face of the city is changing like never before. Thanks in part to a multi-million dollar downtown revitalization project, Waco Texas is looking to cement its place as a marquee destination.
The project was first proposed to the city council this past October, and for Paris Rutherford, Principal at Catalyst Urban Development, the Dallas based company behind the project, Waco offers a unique opportunity
"Everything that we do is customized; its about the place we are in. This is a very big investment, it's on a scale that Waco hasn't seen yet." He says.
The project is broken down into three phases. The first will focus on adding 294 loft apartments and more than 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space to an already bustling waterfront area, while also transforming the popular downtown farmers market.
Waco mayor Kyle Deaver insists that despite a hefty price tag, this project is absolutely crucial for the city to continue to move in the right direction
"I think we are already experiencing unprecedented growth in tourism and this can only help."
That momentum is thanks in a large part to the success of the Magnolia markets, a tourist destination that brings in people from across the country daily. City Manager Dale Fissler says Magnolia will serve as a good center point for the project to build around
"This really continues the winning streak Waco has been on recently, and a lot of that is due to the Magnolia effect as we call it."
One of the projects underlying themes in connectivity, essentially creating a link between the Baylor campus, Mclane stadium and some of the other downtown hotspots. Developers say its about looking at Waco as one big picture, rather than multiple, separate, attractions.
"You could be walking from a restaurant to the farmers market to a hotel and all along the way it's been thought through as you walk" Says Rutherford.
Phase two and three will line the waterfront with an upscale boutique hotel along with food and music venues.
Developers say they hope to complete all three phases in a five year period, but it could take as long as eight, but by all accounts, the end result, will be worth the wait.