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WACO, TX-A 17-acre parcel that is currently asphalt will be the site for the $76.5-million Waco Town Square. The Sugar Land developers of the project will break ground in July on the first phase, a $23-million, 400-bed student housing complex within walking distance of Baylor University.

The privately funded project’s second and third phases will have 61,880 sf of retail and restaurants, 68,680 sf of class A office space and about 35,000 sf of loft-style residential units. The developer is planning to start work on the subsequent phases by year’s end. “Subject to market conditions, we’re looking at the middle part of 2010 when the overall project will be complete,” says David Wallace, partner with developer SWB Heritage Square Partners LP.

The town square development, situated between South Third and South Fourth streets, is part of an overall redevelopment plan for the Downtown area. As construction begins on Waco Town Square, the nearby Hilton Waco Hotel, Courtyard by Marriot and Waco Convention Center also are getting upgrades.

“The Downtown area is getting a shot in the arm of more than $100 million of development and redevelopment money,” Wallace tells GlobeSt.com. Also in the mix for SWB Heritage Square Partners is its recent acquisition of the 100%-leased, 100,000-sf mixed-use River Square Center at Second and Franklin streets. The center is part of the overall town square development.

Wallace, who is mayor of Sugar Land, already had experience with the concept of town-square development because of his involvement with Sugar Land Town Square. “All of the components we were looking for in Sugar Land were found in Waco,” he says. “This has a fountain, a pedestrian-friendly gathering in front of city hall and nearby convention center and hotels.”

Wallace adds SWB Heritage Square Partners is looking at other town square projects too. “We’ve been approached by two other cities in Texas for this type of development, but haven’t nailed them down yet,” he says.

Waco Town Square’s architect is Pierce Goodwin Alexander & Linville in Houston. EE Reid Construction Co. of Sugar Land is the general contractor. Bland Cromwell of Coldwell Banker Commercial in Waco is handling office and retail leasing while Frank Cromwell, also from Waco, has been hired to manage River Square Center and the lofts.

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