The adoption of a new comprehensive zoning ordinance provides unique opportunities for future business across Waxahachie.
The Waxahachie City Council approved an ordinance for new zoning districts at the May 21 meeting. The comprehensive zoning ordinance establishes the mixed-use residential, mixed-use non-residential, and the downtown neighborhood zoning categories and districts.
The ordinance also repealed the parking and general retail limited zoning districts due to lack of widespread use, as well as removed redundant language from the document.
Shon Brooks, planning director, stated the new mixed-use districts give the city a chance to grow in a way that has not been used before.
“We have seen some interest in doing mixed-use in having a residential component with a commercial element,” Brooks said. “So we created that zoning district that would create commercial on the first floor with residential above.”
Brooks stated by bringing uses together it creates an area that connects residents to services they need and businesses to customers. He pointed out this model has been used successfully in cities like Mansfield with the Shops at Broad, which is a mixed-use development.
Michael Scott, city manager, stated the new zoning allows for a development not to be limited to a single use and opens it up to the community to enjoy.
“If they can include a retail component with the residential that is a win for us because a lot of people are opposed to straight multifamily developments,” Scott said. “But if there is a retail aspect to where people can go downstairs to get a cup of coffee or do their banking, those kinds of neighborhood services makes for good development.”
Scott stated this kind of use would work well in downtown Waxahachie with the residential component on the upper floors and retail on the bottom. He notes the apartments help pay for the project and the retail helps and promotes downtown at the same time.
However, the downtown neighborhood-zoning district component is not yet finalized. Thought behind this zoning is to allow properties near downtown to be used for a commercial purpose like a bakery or retail store. City staff will work on this component over the next few months. The city also established a zoning district for townhomes, which previously had to be built under a planned development.
A LOOK AT THE FUTURE?
For a glimpse at what the future of the new ordinance could hold for areas around downtown Waxahachie, residents need not look further than the Bishop Arts District in north Oak Cliff.
Shane Spillers, president of the Bishop Arts District Merchants Association, stated revitalization is a collaborative where everyone works together. He notes zoning does play a role in fostering investment.
“It takes time to achieve what we have been collectively able to achieve in the Bishop Arts District. It takes capital investment. It takes care of the architecture and the building structure,” Spillers said. “Thought was put into how the layout of the space works, and how it flows and functions.”
Spillers stated it takes property owners and tenant working together in partnership to make that investment work.
The Bishop Arts District is home to more than 60 independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and art galleries. Efforts to bring life back to Bishop Arts was led by the Jim Lake Companies, who is currently working in and around downtown Waxahachie.
Spillers stated at the beginning of Bishops Arts rebirth some businesses were not successful and closed, but the majority have been successful. He attributes part of that success to the district’s property owners group coming together, recognizing district’s unique quality, and keeping rents reasonable in order not to hurt entrepreneurs and the guest experience.
The other factor in the district’s success Spillers says is providing outstanding customer experience to each person. He knows this firsthand as the owner of Eno’s Pizza Tavern in the district.
“The experience for a person coming into the district starts from when they leave their house or apartment,” Spillers said. “We have to be thoughtful of how they navigate the district. How they park and how they walk to our front door. How they get from the front door to the table or bar. Then where they go afterward to the time and when they go home. There is a lot to it.”
Spillers advises city leadership and businesses to keep collectively working together and supporting each other in the process of growing downtown.