old police station college street.jpg

The old Waxahachie Police station, located at 216 N. College St.

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board has approved the first step into the remodel of the old Waxahachie Police station downtown. Board members approved the use of up to $100,000 to gut the inside and complete repairs to make the structure build-ready.

The Waxahachie Police Department moved out of the building in August 2018 to its new facility on Farley Street. Since then, the former station on College Street has been up for lease from the city.

City Manager Michael Scott said the funds supplied by the TIRZ board will help to get the building into a state to where it can be transformed into another use.

“As you can see in the building, there are a number of interior walls,” he said. “By having those removed, this would create an open space for a future tenant. The other part of this is replacing six of the eight rooftop (HVAC) units.

“We do have a tenant that is proposing to go in there but, regardless, whether this tenant goes in or not we need to make the building ready,” he said.

According to the city’s website, the TIRZ was established in 2003 and is a geographic area that includes the central business district. Incremental ad valorem tax increases on properties in the TIRZ area are used to fund projects in the downtown master plan. The seven board members make recommendations to the city about proposed projects in the zone.

Some of the previous projects funded by the TIRZ include the restoration of the MKT train depot on Rogers Street.

Board member Coy Sevier asked Scott if the building’s problem with water infiltration had been addressed. In April 2015, the station, along with several downtown businesses, was flooded.

Scott told Sevier the city spent some money from the general fund to shore up the building and it is sealed up well. The company contracted by the city was Aquatech. He noted that there is a little bit of work to be done on the roof to make sure the water drains properly from the scuppers.

Scott said the city is looking at a proposal from resident John Bailey who, with his wife Donna, owned Leon’s “Real Fine” Bar-B-Que from 2013-2014 on Monroe Street. Bailey said he acted as the general contractor for the renovations on the Leon’s building, which is now home to Pop’s Burger Stand.

Before he operated a restaurant, Bailey was a commercial real estate appraiser who specialized in hospitality properties. He noted that the 8,000 square foot building is solidly built and has several advantages already, which include fire sprinklers and modern restrooms. It also has a 70-spot parking lot on the side and 15 spaces in the rear of the building.

“There are a lot of restaurants in downtown but there is no real drive to get people to restaurants,” Bailey said. “I envision this space as principally a steakhouse restaurant. One space would be for flexible uses for private events, live music and additional restaurant seating, if necessary.”

The board asked Bailey if he thought there was asbestos in the building.

Bailey told the board he didn’t think there was because of previous remodels that took place in 1995 and 1998, but that is something that would be looked into at the beginning of the project.

Unlike a city project where the renovation of a property can be done over time, the work required at the old police station needs to be done all at once so a business can be successful, Bailey said, which takes away the burden of worrying about a possible repair each month. He noted that any cost for repairs above the $100,000 supplied by the city and the cost to finish out the building would be borne by him.

Bailey said the lease with the city is still under negotiation and is expected to be brought before the city council at its next meeting April 15.

Scott said if the city oversaw the bids and the demolition, it would be a slower process and likely more expensive. He said the work on the old police station would need to be done regardless of who would occupy it in the future.

The TIRZ board unanimously approved the expenditure of up to $100,000 for the demolition and repair of the building.

The board also heard from city Downtown Development Director Anita Brown, who presented a request for $15,000 in funding to be used to redo the landscaping at the MKT train depot, which is owned by the city. Brown said the depot is in a spot that is highly visited, with people using it in their photography for special occasions such as weddings and graduations.

She told the board that the installation and maintenance of the landscaping around the depot was part of the former tenant’s lease agreement.

The new tenant, Fresh Market Coffee House, does not have the stipulation in its lease with the city.

A landscape plan has been developed by Fresh Market and city horticulturist Chris Seale, she said, noting that the maintenance moving forward would be handled by a contractor and paid for out of the general fund.

The board approved the use of up to $15,000 for landscaping at the depot with the stipulation that additional bids be sought.

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