It takes Forever to Build a City

By · August 20, 2013 · Filed in Uncategorized

Anyone who has ever been in my office has likely seen a Waco Tribune Herald newspaper clipping posted above my desk dated Monday, August 5, 1974 titled “Officials Convinced Downtown Can Make It: Lake Brazos Corridor Viewed as Ace-in-Hole for Future Development.” It is an interesting article.

The article basically states that Chamber leadership, city staff and other stakeholders were confident in the potential of the downtown area despite the fact it was struggling. The article dismissively describes a prevalence of vacant buildings in the downtown mall, lackluster retail sales that don’t keep pace with the rest of the community and low rents in downtown as distractions from the bigger vision.

The article goes on to discuss the need for hotels and entertainment facilities to attract people into downtown and support the convention center. One city leader talks about plans in the works and blue prints ready to break ground on a hotel and restaurant stating that “downtown Waco has the building blocks for a future, it’s just a matter of arranging them.”

In 1974 the community was selling seven new free public parking lots as a reason to come downtown. We were building for the moment, not a long term sustainable future.

Even in this less hopeful era in downtown Waco’s history, just a few years before one of our then city council members declared downtown Waco “brain dead,” even then we believed in the value of the Brazos River.

I’ve been reminded many times that it takes forever to build a city. Forty years ago leaders were working with the tools available to them to build this city; today we keep working. We’ve come a long way. The understanding of our potential was quite clear 40 years ago but it went unrealized. Today that understanding is no different; we all recognize the importance of a revitalized riverfront destination for the region.

What appeared to be lacking in 1974 was a community united behind a shared long term vision for our community. Today that vision is in place and you see the results. More than 2,500 people involved in 1000 Friends of Waco are playing a big part in developing the consensus that is building unprecedented momentum in Greater Downtown Waco.

This generational vision—not unlike that of the great cathedral builders—is what 1000 Friends of Waco is all about. It takes forever to build a city and we can’t do it without you.


The primary goal of 1000 Friends of Waco is to prepare residents to be advocates for a vibrant successful Greater Downtown Waco. Join us and be a part of the discussion daily on Facebook or Twitter @1000friendswaco.


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