Correction: This story has been updated to state that the plaza is between Franklin and Austin Avenues.
The painted and decorated Seventh Street Plaza just off Austin Avenue will live beyond the “Summer of Downtown” campaign that launched it last year, giving the space a second life as a gathering place for shoppers and a venue for small events.
The stretch of Seventh Street between Austin and Franklin Avenues was closed and turned into a temporary plaza with lighting and picnic tables in the summer of 2021.
Local artists painted the walls of the multi-story building that shade the side street, and groups of Wacoans covered the rest with chalk drawings during the Chalk Waco event this spring. Downtown Waco held events throughout the summer. Now the space is quiet and mostly unused.
Waco Downtown Acting Director Chris McGowan said the Downtown Public Improvement District has budgeted $50,000 for design services for the project, which has yet to be finalized. final price.
People also read…
City Center Waco, which administers the PID, issued a request for qualifications to the designers, the first step toward redevelopment of the plaza into a permanent feature. The PID is funded by a surcharge on taxes paid by downtown property owners.
The Seventh Street block was not heavily used when open, other than delivery trucks that parked across the street to access Cameron Trading Co., the nearby antique store.
But store owner Mark Arnold said the square does not block truck access to the store and that he was in favor of making the square permanent as it provides a place for visitors to sit and relax. is a “necessity” for Austin Avenue.
“It’s a good thing to have,” he said. “We don’t have any green space unless you go down to Indian Spring Park.”
He said the Chalk Walk and Every Color is Beautiful fashion show in May drew thousands of people this year.
Ann Noble, an employee of Cameron Trading Co., said she also watched the cyclists pause in the square before continuing.
From their deli corner at the plaza, Suit City employees said they watched passers-by stop in the plaza to take pictures of the art or use it as a backdrop for their own photos.
“We had a client who was from Laredo, he was buying a suit that he needed to take to New Mexico,” saleswoman Karen Clark said. “He and his wife, they stopped to take a picture, and I ran across the street so they could both be in.”
Clark said turning the intersection into a pedestrian-only zone also reduced traffic on Austin Avenue, making it safer and faster for pedestrians.
Suit City owner Dustin Evans said the out-of-the-way areas where people can sit will help draw people into the environment.
“It’s part of the ‘Art District’ genre, and I think it’s good for tourism,” he said.