WAXAHACHIE — The growth that the City of Waxahachie has seen over the past few years is driving development across the map, but especially near the downtown business district.

The latest development, the building of 10 townhomes by Acker Construction, is entering its first phase and will connect residents and businesses, says the developer, Chris Acker.

Located on Franklin Street facing Pops Burger Stand, this first wave of construction will contain six units with each unit consisting of 2,500 square feet of living space in a three-and-a-half-story structure. The half story will be for a rooftop patio, which Acker said will allow the homeowner to install such things as a hot tub.

Acker said he was inspired to bring this type of development to Waxahachie after seeing similar homes in Dallas and thought that the townhome concept would work in the Gingerbread Capital.

“I just drove by and looked at it and thought it would be neat. There are some at the farmer’s market in downtown Dallas. It is the same idea. I had seen this land first and thought it would be perfect for that,” Acker said. “I showed it to the city, and they got behind it, and they helped to get it going pretty quickly.”

Acker stated that this development would complement the existing architecture and look that is established in downtown but will offer people high-end amenities.

The first floor of each unit will have a two-car garage. In the garage, residents can access an elevator that will take them from the ground all the way to roof top patio. The townhomes will feature three bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, Viking ranges and hardwood floors. The townhomes start at $375,000 but can be more depending on the features that homeowner wants to add.

Acker noted that each home would feature repurposed building material from structures that have been demolished to give them another life. The wood flooring used in this project is from a gym that was torn down on Getzendaner Street. The brick used on the outside of the townhomes is recycled from other structures. This brick provides each home a unique look that will separate it from one unit to the next.

“As soon as this plan was drawn up three of the six units were under contract. We also have verbal agreements on two of the other. So there is only one left. Acker remarked. “We are going to start phase two in 90 days. As soon as we have the roof on this one, we will start phase two. It is going to change the look of downtown. You will see it from I-35E as you come in.”

Acker remarked that these style of homes are in demand for those who are single and empty nesters. The other appeal of a home like this is that it is within walking distance of retail, dining and the city’s hike and bike trail.

Acker stated that the plumbing has already been installed in the ground and expects that walls will put up within the next two weeks. He added that there is going to be one commercial lot in phase one where a restaurant is going to be built on. Phase two is going to contain four units will be in the vacant lot in the 200 block of Monroe Street.

History of Property

According to a study that Acker conducted the property on Franklin and Monroe Streets had many uses over the years. These uses included both residential and commercial purposes. The commercial use was a funeral home was on the Franklin property built in the 1920’s and was later removed around 2003 or 2004. By the early 1980’s the Franklin property had two residential properties and the Monroe property had one residential property. A residential property on Franklin was torn down in 1950’s for parking purposes. The residential property on Monroe was removed in the mid-1970’s for a parking lot.

City’s Assistance

Acker said that there were some difficulties in building in an older area such but the city was instrumental in helping him get the project off the ground.

“They (the city) grabbed my hand and kind of pushed me through the process. [Mayor] Kevin Strength was instrumental in this and so was Anita Brown (Director of downtown development),” Acker said. “There are roadblocks to building in downtown. There was not a sewer line down Franklin Street. There were some things to overcome. They grabbed my hands and said, ‘come on if you are willing to buy the land and we are willing to walk you through the process.’”

Acker stated one of the ways the city help with the project is through a contribution made from the Waxahachie’s tax increment reinvestment zone.

According to the city’s website, the TIRZ is a geographic area that was established in 2003 which includes the central business district. Incremental ad valorem tax increases on properties in the TIRZ area since 2003 are used to fund projects in the Downtown Master Plan. The board of seven members is a recommending body to the City Council. The TIRZ fund funded $100,000 to help with infrastructure improvements for the townhome project. Some of the other projects aided with funds include restoration of the MKT train depot on Rogers Street and the purchase of the Texas Theater.

Acker stated while there can be difficulties in developing in downtown it is worth the time and effort. This type of investment in the core of the city helps to continue to grow and to make opportunities for others available.

“I was told that it couldn’t be done. Well, it is happening. Waxahachie has been good to me. I grew up here, graduated High School here and moved here in 1985,” Acker said. “Every dime that I have made, I have made here and I thought why not put some of it back.”

For more information about the project go to Acker Construction’s website at www.ackerbuilt.com. Acker Construction’s office is located at 130 Chieftain Suite 103 in Waxahachie. Its staff can be reached at 469-383-5939.