By Racquel Joseph
The Ivy Square shopping plaza, which bordered Baylor on the I-35 side, has died a death both slow and sudden. After years of businesses opening and closing and many prolonged vacancies in the shopping center, Baylor has begun the process of demolishing the square. Currently, all that remains is a small heap of rubble and a scattering of conquering heavy machinery.
According to the facilities and construction department, the square will be grassed over and fenced off to serve as an informal intramural field and study area. More importantly, it will serve as an aesthetically pleasing alternative to the shingled buildings and parking lot riddled with potholes. Baylor purchased the property in 2002 and allowed the tenants’ leases to end, giving them time to relocate. Some of the last tenants to leave were U.S. Nails nail salon and a Quizno’s restaurant.
The beautification is part of the continuing Baylor 2012 vision, which includes construction of “useful and aesthetically pleasing physical spaces.” The same imperative aims to ensure that all major entries to the campus promote community. As visitors exit I-35, they will be greeted with green fields and, hopefully, a few students lolling on blankets and benches, books in hand.
Resistance to the Ivy Square demolition among the larger student body seems weak. If it were not for the drama of a city-issued boil water order on the second day of the semester, Ivy Square might have passed away with little notice. When removing the Ivy Square sign, crews accidentally ruptured a sixteen-inch water main. The City of Waco resolved the issue quickly, and the precautionary order was lifted after two days.
Senior business student Amanda Head will not miss the plaza. “I don’t know of anyone who shopped there anyway; it always seemed useless to me,” she said. She remembers the demolition of the old UBS Bookstore and Pics and Gifts on Dutton as more important. “Students actually shopped there every day,” she said.
But Truett Seminary students are perturbed about the removal of a parking lot they used as a more convenient alternative to the busy Dutton parking garage. A Lariat editorial described Ivy Square’s location as “pitiful” for its intended purposes and suggests the space should have been repurposed for parking or a place for near-campus stores.
According to vice president of facilities and construction Brian Nicholson, the construction, which began in June, is on track to cost about $450,000. He reports that the grass will be in before Judge Ken Starr’s inauguration on September 17.
For all the memories made there since 1974, it seems that the square could have been sent off in a more dignified manner. On the alumni association’s Facebook page this summer, Ivy Square was a popular topic of reminiscence—midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the movie theater, scoops at Baskin Robbins, and fraternity tattoos at Wildside, Inc. tattoo parlor. Perhaps a nice ceremony was in order.