When it comes to Downtown Waco streets, Wacoans may think of Austin Avenue first, lined with shops and trees or maybe Franklin Avenue which serves as a thoroughfare to get folks downtown expeditiously. But what about Mary?
Mary Avenue has operated a bit like an alley for a while but there are loftier aspirations for it. The Imagine Waco plan, created in 2010, envisioned Mary Avenue as a “festival street,” attractive with plenty of pedestrian traffic. And the city is now ready to bring that plan for Mary Avenue to life.
It’s the perfect time to beautify Mary and set aesthetic and functional standards and for it, as new development along that street (hotels at 2nd and 3rd streets) is just about to get underway. The Mary Avenue project is less about completely redoing that street and more about giving it a facelift and putting guidelines in place that will give it a consistent look and feel all the way down to 12th Street.
Every day, the lower stretch of Mary, especially between 2nd and 6th streets, see a regular stream of foot traffic, with visitors flowing between River Square Center and the Silo District. It’s also a popular trail for downtown residents out for a dog walk. Improving Mary Avenue will help Waco continue to put its best foot forward for downtown visitors and residents alike.
Meetings are underway with folks who have a vested interest in Mary Avenue, including business owners, property owners and developers. City Center has been collecting suggestions that include everything from a park area on Mary to traffic interventions that will make it easier to see cross traffic at intersections. One of the most repeated suggestions is some sort of arch structure or gateway signage for Mary Avenue at University Parks Drive. The gateway would pair nicely with the entrance to the Cottonbelt Railroad Bridge, which will eventually be developed as a public space, directly across University Parks Drive.
This work will also include cleaning up the dumpster areas on the first couple of blocks of Mary behind River Square Center.
City Center will continue to communicate about the Mary Avenue concept project. And the next time you find yourself near Mary, park and take a stroll and imagine the best Mary you can. What does that look like?