A project to bring 18 new apartment homes has been tabled after a heated discussion between developer Chris Acker and the Historic Preservation Commission during the latter’s recent meeting. The proposed Crescent Creek Villas is set to be located near Kaufman Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Acker told the commission that one of the goals of the project is to bring younger people to downtown. This development aids downtown businesses with residents who live within walking distance to their establishments, he said.
The complex would be made up of two-bedroom, two-bath units, with each unit totaling about 1,000 square feet. The nine units on the first floor would all be handicap accessible.
Rents would be $1,550 a month, with Acker listing amenities to include a pool, nine private balconies and a lighted connection into the city’s existing hike and bike trail.
Heritage Preservation Commission chairman Becky Kauffman told Acker the project was “99 percent there” but objected to the development’s black and white color scheme.
“There is nothing in downtown that is that stark white. The starkness of the white is going to set a precedent,” Kauffman said. “It is wonderful that it is an empty lot and that you didn’t have to demolish anything. My main concern is the color.”
Acker told Kauffman the color was chosen to make a statement, noting that the location of the complex was one of the physical points in the city where there was a racial divide. This complex is a symbol of “trying to erase” that divide, he said.
Acker said the complex is next to Save More Grocery, which is painted a maroon color, and noted that a color change like this can’t be made during a meeting.
He further added this not about a color change, that it “is much more.”
“Chuck Beatty (city council member) and I worked together to help unify Waxahachie East and the rest of the city so they didn’t feel disconnected,” Acker said. “That was one of the things that I told him I was going to do. Every time he would drive by and see that building, it would signify that we are trying to do away with that divide there. Some people feel like this is their part of town and this is our side of town.
“I am trying to help demolish that kind of thinking and mindset,” he said. “That is why I am adamant and would not change it. That is why I stuck to my guns. I have already made promises: That is what I said it was going to be.”
Acker said there would be a cornerstone built into the property to explain the symbolism of the colors used on the structure. He described Beatty as “ecstatic” about what the colors on the complex represent.
Fellow commission members applauded Acker for the design and overall look of the Crescent Creek Villas.
Commission member Peggy Crabtree said the look of the proposed development reminded her of the T.C. Wilemon building that once was home to Waxahachie and Global high schools and now serves as WISD’s STEAM elementary.
However, commission members did reiterate Kauffman’s sentiment that the building’s color was “too white,” adding that it could attract dirt from the roadway.
“It is the starkness of it (the color) and we feel that it would open up the door,” Kauffman said.
The board voted to table the item so color changes could be made and represented to the board at a later meeting.
Following the decision, Acker left the council chambers but returned later to address the board.
“In my short walk around the square, I have counted seven buildings painted white – just from walking from here (city hall) to the courthouse,” Acker said. “Just remember, we just bought the old First Baptist Church building and that could be a big white billboard.”
Acker told the board the church building is not in the historic overlay district and therefore not subject to the commission’s oversight. Two of the buildings he pointed out that are white in color in the downtown area include the Panza’s Tapping Italy building and Tire Town. He also noted how the former Firestone tire shop that now houses Southwest Data Solutions was painted white at one time.
Acker said the building wouldn’t be built unless it is approved as presented.
No date for the next Heritage Preservation Commission meeting had been set as of press time.