ACU announced prospective plans for the development of an upscale mixed-use village on the north side of town.
The Village at Allen Ridge, at the intersection of Interstate 20, Ambler Avenue and Judge Ely Boulevard, would provide Abilene’s north side with a more sophisticated center for dining, shopping, housing and entertainment.
Similar to developments like Market Street in The Woodlands and Waters Creek in Allen, The Village would have restaurants, retail shopping, a movie theater and multi-family housing.
ACIMCO, ACU’s endowment management company, has spent the last 18 months in partnership with BVTD LLC of Dallas determining the feasibility of such a development.
Kelly Young, chief financial officer, said they have studied the demographics, market and regional economy of Abilene.
“We are trying to determine if these kinds of projects that have worked so well in other cities could it work in a city like Abilene,” Young said. “At this point, we’d say yes, we have the kind of population and demographics that could support this.”
The three largest private institutions in Abilene Â- ACU, Hardin-Simmons University and Hendrick Medical Center Â- are on the north side of town.
Outside of these institutions and the downtown cultural district, there isn’t much reason to come to the north side, Young said. The development would not only cater to the college students and medical professionals on the north side, but would draw people from all over the greater Abilene area.
“Many cities that have the kind of university and medical neighborhood like we do, it’s also the most vibrant area of town, like at TCU, SMU, A&M, University of Texas,” Young said. “So, we feel like by creating this village that will be very attractive to our ACU students, prospective students, Hardin Simmons and Tech students, it will also be a draw for other people.”
In addition to The Village at Allen Ridge, ACIMCO is looking at creating a new single-family residential community off of E. N. 10th Street. Young said the two projects will support each other in drawing people to Abilene’s north side.
Young said he and ACIMCO have already talked to retailers and dining groups interested in being part of The Village. The next step in the project will be getting businesses to commit.
“We don’t want to build until we have commitments,” Young said.
If enough restaurants and retailers commit, ACIMCO will run its final financial models and make a recommendation to its board. Young said he hopes to present to the board late this summer or early fall.
“If we can determine that there is enough commitment over the summer, and all of the financial numbers still makes sense, and the board says yes, then it’s a matter of finding the final investors over the fall,” Young said. “If this all goes smoothly, then you’re looking somewhere within a year that things might start going up.”
ACIMCO will determine options for financing and investing after financial models are complete at the end of the summer.
“What we know is that we have a very valuable piece of undeveloped land at I-20, Ambler and Judge Ely,” Young said. “And if it does turn out to be feasible, we’ll have a development generating revenue that supports ACU’s programs.”