Author Archive

Waco Suspension Bridge Story

By · July 5, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

The Waco Suspension Bridge is perhaps the most iconic structure in our community.  It has a very interesting story, click through to read the about the history of the bridge that was a big part of making Waco what it is today.

Waco Suspension Bridge story

Near Northside Master Plan

By · June 27, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Please review the new master Plan for North Waco.

 

http://bit.ly/x7ylCS

 

Central Texas Commuter Rail Survey

By · May 12, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Intercity Rail service is a high priority for achieving our vision for Waco’s future.  Please consider participating in the following survey and pass this on to anyone you may feel is interested.

http://www.railsurvey.org/centex

The Texas Transportation Institute is conducting a research study to better understand how the people of Central Texas travel between cities and the possible use of passenger rail for intercity travel.  As part of their research study they have developed an internet-based survey questionnaire which helps answer some of their research questions.  They have selected three Central Texas communities (Waco, Temple, and Hillsboro) for their case studies and are now in the process of trying to recruit as many residents of those communities as possible to complete their survey on the web.

TTI’s  target population is any and all residents of the City of Waco.    If you would like to take the survey please click the following link: http://www.railsurvey.org/centex

I’d also encourage you to pass this along to others who may be interested in commuter rail in Central Texas.

Get fit downtown

By · May 11, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

The following was sent to me recently by Elizabeth Oates.  Elizabeth teaches the Yoga Life classes at the new CrossFit fitness center on Austin Avenue…

Bringing Fitness Downtown

Time. Money. Boredom. Inconvenience. Most of us utter these excuses for not exercising. Well get ready, downtown, because Jimmy Stewart and Jonathan Reynolds, co-owners of CrossFit Waco, have moved downtown! Their new gym, CrossFit Waco, located in the new Woolworth Suites located at 605 Austin Avenue, offers workout programs for every fitness level and interest, creating an environment that eliminates all of these excuses.

In addition to CrossFit and Boot Camp classes, several other health professionals join together in the Woolworth Suites to offer Waco a unique fitness experience:

  • YogaLife with Elizabeth Oates
  • (two54) Fitness Studio with Shemane Nugent, Angela Beeler, and Heather Field
  • Pilates with Blaire Bolton
  • Mixed Martial Arts with Tim McFatridge

TIME. Most people juggle work, family, and other activities, leaving little time for exercise. Yet the new downtown location offers classes throughout the day. Are you a morning person? Take advantage of the CrossFit, Boot Camp, and Yoga classes at 5:15 a.m., 5:30 a.m., and 6:15 a.m. Need a lunch-time boost? Try a CrossFit, Yoga, or Zumba class. Want to relieve work-day stress? The downtown location offers a variety of classes at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. each weekday.

MONEY. Finances are the second most-used excuse for not exercising. “Parents will usually spend $100-125 per month on sports for their kids, but they won’t come even close to spending that on themselves for fitness,” Stewart points out.

YogaLife offers classes for as little as $6 per class (a HUGE savings when you consider most Yoga studios in other cities charge $12-15 per class).

CrossFit offers workout packages for less than $9 per class for new participants and about $7 for returning participants. And (two54) Fitness Studio offers packages costing $1-5 per class.

BOREDOM. This is the third obstacle people must overcome in achieving their fitness goals. With ten different types of fitness activities in the new Woolworth Suites, boredom is not an issue. Each program offers variety, challenge, and varying degrees of difficulty to engage the novice to the expert exerciser. Looking for a change in your workout? Try any of the classes offered, including CrossFit, Boot Camp, Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, mixed martial arts, running endurance classes, marathon training, triathlon training, and kettle bell classes.

INCONVENIENCE. In the past, people working downtown did not have a convenient gym option, making working out on weekdays difficult. In the new Woolworth Suites, you can walk to the gym, workout, and then take advantage of the shower facilities to get ready for work. Inconvenience is no longer an excuse.

One more advantage that CrossFit Waco, YogaLife, and (two54) Fitness Studios, among others, offer is accountability. “In a mainstream gym no one knows if you don’t show up. We know if you’re not here. This is what makes our programs work and helps people reach their fitness goals,” Stewart says.

Clients are held accountable via emails and phone calls when they miss a class. The staff also hosts nutritional seminars because, as Stewart says, “Nutrition is more important for performance and weight loss than is exercise.”

These programs appeal to both men and women. CrossFit offers both co-ed and a women’s-only class. Yoga, originally created for men, now enables both men and women to increase their flexibility, strength, balance, and focus. In fact, professional athletes, including football’s Eddie George and Shannon Sharpe, baseball’s Barry Zito, basketball’s Kevin Garnett, and PGA golfers Ty Tryon and David Duval, all praise the physical and mental benefits they have gained from Yoga.

According to healthyamericans.org, two thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese. If you are one of these people and want to lose weight, or just someone who wants to add some challenge, variety and fun into your workout routine, then check out one of the classes at the new Woolworth Suites.

For more information, check out the following:

www.crossfitwaco.com

www.YogaLifeWaco.blogspot.com

www.two54fitness.com

Can public transit save me money?

By · March 28, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

excellent article on net economic savings of cities that invest in robust public transit systems.

http://www.planetizen.com/node/43035

Improving Downtown Parking

By · February 17, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Originally posted September 7, 2007 on Chamber Blog (http://www.wacochamber.com/blog/?p=8)

Here’s an old blog post from our chamber website I put together a few years ago, it remains as relevant as ever and I thought it’d be a great time to revisit…

Improving Downtown Parking

Bear with me for a minute, because I want to suggest a radical idea to you for creating safer, more convenient parking in Downtown Waco…charging market rate pricing for on-street and publicly owned off street parking facilities.  Utilizing parking revenue as a redevelopment tool can change the politics of parking in a city, particularly if these revenues are allocated to pay for public improvements in the neighborhoods that generate them.

Consider an older business district such as Downtown Waco where many stores have little or no off-street parking and vacant curb space is generally difficult to come by. Cruising for free on-street parking congests the streets, and many people complain about a lack of available parking. Charging for an on-street parking space will increase turnover, and reduce traffic congestion. Additionally, the convenience of a few vacancies will also attract more customers who don’t have to spend time hunting for a space.  Most marketing execs and parking consultants will tell you that customers willing to pay a nominal fee for a convenient parking space are more likely to buy something while shopping as opposed to someone who would rather pass up a space than insert a few coins into a parking meter.

Nevertheless, merchants often fear that charging for parking will keep customers away. Suppose in this case the city creates a “Parking Benefit District” in which all the meter revenue is spent to pay for public amenities that can attract customers, expanding sidewalks, planting street trees, improving store facades, and enhancing public safety. The meter revenue will help make the district a place where people want to be. Spending meter revenue to improve the area where it is collected can be advantageous to merchants and property owners when the revenue is reinvested into public improvements within the district.

The appropriate price for on-street parking is the lowest price that keeps a few spaces available to allow convenient access for shoppers.  The goal of market rate pricing is to produce about 85-percent occupancy, so that drivers can find places to park near their destinations.  The purpose of charging market prices for on-street parking is not to generate parking revenue, but to allocate curb spaces more efficiently to drivers, pay for additional police presence to not only enforce new parking standards but provide heightened security in a thriving business district.  Reinvesting parking revenue in a district will also help to create more business and investment opportunities for downtown merchants and property owners.

Drivers who think that less than a handful of spare change is too much to pay for on-street parking can always park free off-street for a period (an hour or two) before having to pay for their space in publicly or privately owned off street parking facilities. The shared public parking can encourage visitors to park once and walk through Downtown Waco.  Public garages if feasible can also maximize their intensity by having ground-floor retail stores and restaurants. The main benefit of this type of shared, public off-street parking avoids the usual haphazard distribution of small private parking lots attached to individual businesses without regard to the design of the neighborhood. If each separate business has its own parking lot for the exclusive use of its own customers, a compact, walkable, park-once business district is nearly impossible.

One way to make this feasible is to create a “Parking Credit Program,” in the PID where a business can pay the city a fee in lieu of providing required off-street parking spaces. The fee per parking credit can be far cheaper than providing an off-street parking space and if structured properly, most businesses will choose to pay the fee rather than provide the required parking. These fees can also contribute to the Parking Benefit District.  The low fees for the parking credits remove a barrier to the redevelopment of existing buildings, and the freedom from parking woes is freedom to grow your business.

The Public Improvement District is a ready-made, legitimate recipient for curb parking revenue. Suppose the city offers the PID the parking meter revenue earned within its boundaries. This arrangement amounts to a matching grant from the city.  If businesses tax themselves to pay for public improvements through the PID, the city could contribute the area’s curb parking revenue to bolster the effort. The matching grant encourages local businesses to invest in downtown and in turn the meter revenue the city allocates to the PID can improve the district, draw more shoppers downtown and increase property values.  This, in turn, creates more sales tax, ad valorem tax and PID assessment revenue from the benefiting businesses and property owners, which will in part continue to be reinvested in the PID.

There you have it, if you have any thoughts or questions on this or anything else related to urban development feel free to drop me a note at cmcgowan@wacochamber.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Brazos River Bridge Hearing This Thursday

By · February 1, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

The Texas Department of Transportation will hold its final public hearing on Thursday, February 3rd, at the Texas Ranger Museum Education Center to discuss construction of signature frontage road bridges over the Brazos River.  Funding for this projects is approved and allocated. The construction of these bridges will further enhance the image of Waco, the Brazos River Corridor and Baylor University.

We strongly encourage you to attend and express your support for this very important project.

Where: Texas Ranger Museum Education Center, I-35 and University Parks Drive, Waco, TX

When: Thursday, February 3, 2011. 6 p.m.

Purpose: TxDOT will conduct a final public hearing to discuss construction of frontage road bridges over the Brazos River.

If you are unable to attend, please send a letter or email supporting the bridge to:

Greg Malatek, P.E.
Waco District Deputy District Engineer
100 South Loop Drive
Waco, TX 76704-2858

greg.malatek@txdot.gov

Please send your message prior to the meeting on Thursday.

DMN interview with Urban Designer Larry Beasley

By · January 31, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Great interview, very similar philosophy to Waco Chamber Urban Development program: Convene multiple interests, develop strong concepts, grow organically.

http://www.dallasnews.com/incoming/20110114-point-person-our-qa-with-urban-designer-larry-beasley.ece

Streetcars as economic engines

By · January 31, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Great article, New Orleans Mayor expects historic streetcar revitalization to have a “catalytic effect” on economic development in the Big Easy.

http://www.ajc.com/travel/not-quite-a-streetcar-815729.html

North Waco Better Block Project

By · January 28, 2011 · Filed in Uncategorized · No Comments »

Take a minute to take a look at this short video on the North Waco Better Block Project.

On Saturday, October 30, 2010, North Waco businesses, non-profits, student groups and residents came together for an incredible day of fun and activities. For weeks, volunteer groups painted buildings, cleaned up vacant lots, and put up street signs. Large crowds filled the streets enjoying outdoor food venues, street musicians, children’s games, and arts activities, from pumpkin carving to painting murals. In the early afternoon, a “Beatle-tribute band” sang out the old favorites at the delight of the older crowd who celebrated from lawn chairs. In addition, proposed streetscape changes to revitalize the area were displayed on maps and video. All of the local businesses had outstanding sales and were overwhelmed by first-time visitors to the N. 15th/Colcord Ave area.

It was a great day!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpNF7HjQ2VI