The New Normal for Everybody’s Neighborhood

By · August 15, 2012 · Filed in Uncategorized

A few days ago, my wife, Cristi, called and asked if I’d ever been to McDowell’s Café Store onElm Avenue. As she was driving back fromDallas, she and my son, Ollie, stopped in McDowell’s for a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream. A wreck was backing up traffic on I-35, and Ollie was pretty sure he had been strapped into his car seat long enough already.

Being plugged into happenings in Greater Downtown Waco, I was embarrassed to tell her that I had never been there. She really enjoyed “discovering” a quaint place that was new to her. She and Ollie spent a couple of hours having a wonderful time visiting with the regulars and talking about Downtown Waco.

Cristi, like most of us, takes great pride in downtown as a burgeoning center of activity for our community even though she doesn’t live or work downtown. She doesn’t feel this way because she’s supportive of her husband, although she is, she does it because people like to discover new things and be on the frontier. Many of us tend to take ownership of interesting urban spaces. We seem to be drawn to them as anchors of community life.

Along those lines, I was recently invited to attend a membership meeting of the Waco Business League. President Charlie Olson after hearing presentations about exciting things happening in Greater Downtown Waco, remarked about how much progress has been made in recent years. In respect to new businesses and other activity driving people downtown, Mr. Olson said, “Today is the New Normal.”

Olson talked about Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market, family members working out at one of the downtown gyms, dining in downtown restaurants and working downtown. Things are good in Downtown Waco, and they are getting better. I agree with Olson, experiencing Greater Downtown Waco is now part of many of our daily routines.

Recent public and private development activity leading the way for a new normal is a sharp contrast to many years ago when Downtown Waco was declared “brain dead” by a former city official.

Ground was broken recently to construct new signature frontage road bridges over I-35 that will serve as a striking gateway for visitors of our city. Plans are emerging rapidly for the construction of a game changing (literally and figuratively) complex that will be home to the Baylor Bears football team and numerous other events bringing the community together and visitors to our city. Almost everyone I talk with is buzzing about new hotels, river development and exciting things for our future.

Taking these transformational steps to improve our downtown neighborhood is leadership in action and also sets the stage for Waco to thrive as a place that can attract future leaders.

Waco City Council representative Toni Herbert once said that Downtown Waco is and should be everybody’s neighborhood so we can all take pride in the fact that the “new normal” for all of us is discovering great new things in and about our Greater Downtown Waco.

The primary goal of 1000 Friends of Waco is to prepare residents to be advocates for a vibrant, successful Greater Downtown Waco. Join us in being a part of the “new normal” for more discussion daily at or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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