Changing a neighborhood, one building at a time!

by Jimmy Dorrell

About 30 folks showed up on Saturday and another 20 have sent Facebook messages or emails about their ideas for renovating the three empty building units on Colcord Ave and N. 15th St, in Waco. The liquor store was the last icon of the blight that once gripped the neighborhood. The hip-hop store next door and the former “Ray’s Welding’ shop are all part of the deal that Mission Waco was able to get due to the generosity of a Christian business man who believes in our purpose to bring continued transformation to the former historic neighborhood. Mission Waco previously restored the old shopping center, now with the popular World Cup Café, the Jubilee Theatre, Urban Expressions, Youth Center and offices. Across the street, the non-profit Jubilee Food Market was opened last November for the “food desert” area, followed by the completion next door to it of Urban REAP, an aquaponics greenhouse with solar panels, rainwater catchment and a commercial composter.

Community members before the building previously used as a liquor store.

Architect Mark Woodward has generously agreed, without cost, to create the plans for the renovation. This is his fourth building to provide drawings for Mission Waco. Once the Mission Waco board approves the selections of what kinds of businesses and programs may fill the three units, based on community input and viability, Mission Waco will begin to raise funds to complete the facades of the units and build each one out as money allows. Early estimates are that it will take at least $350,000 to do the basic façade and make-ready basics.

To date, 24 different ideas have been suggested. The following ideas have been given at least three or more votes:

  1. A laundry
  2. Restaurant (pizza, Indian, Subway)
  3. Shared office space (and office space)
  4. A small library
  5. Shared commercial kitchen space
  6. A retail clothing store (or resale store)
  7. A small “family dollar” type store.

Other ideas included financial center, hardware store, pharmacy, ice cream shop, cleaners, pet store, used bike U repair shop, barbershop, arts/crafts store, cell phone store, daycare etc.

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