Fort Worth council considering two tax abatements

Posted Tuesday, May. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The city is considering two new tax abatements — one for the new owners of a fruit-processing business that closed two years ago, and the second for a sporting goods firm that’s considering moving its headquarters to north Fort Worth from Haltom City.

OBIM, a fruit processor sold by its owners to a minority partner who eventually closed the business, is back in its original hands. The new owner, the UNPJ Holding Co. limited partnership, plans to expand and modernize its warehouse and manufacturing center at 715 E. 9th St. downtown, the staff and company representatives told City Council members Tuesday.

The company asked the city for a $25,000 loan that would be forgiven if it meets benchmarks, including $250,000 in real property improvements and 75 full-time-equivalent employees by Dec. 31, and maintains the employment target for two years.

“We’re happy to see you back in business,” Councilman Joel Burns, whose district includes downtown, told the company representatives.

Our Nation’s Best Sports, which buys goods for 314 member companies, holds two buying markets annually at the Fort Worth Convention Center. It wants to move to a 60,000-square-foot facility in Fossil Creek Park and plans to add a winter Fort Worth market if the company moves.

It’s asking Fort Worth for a 10-year abatement of up to 50 percent of its city property taxes. The potential abatement is up to $126,925; the city would receive $254,150.

The company, under its agreement, would invest $3.5 million by December 2014 and have up to 35 full-time-equivalent employees by Dec. 31, 2015.

Most of the maximum potential abatement is tied to the investment and employment targets.

“This is not only just an economic development deal, but it just puts another business in Fort Worth” and levers its existing business here, said Councilman Danny Scarth, whose district includes the Fort Worth site.

The council is scheduled to vote on the agreements May 21.

Going on a ‘road diet’

The city is on track to start the controversial Forest Park Boulevard “road diet” re-striping project in June or July, with completion done by August, Fort Worth’s transportation and public works director, Doug Wiersig, told council members Tuesday.

The project would turn Forest Park between West Rosedale Street and Park Hill Drive on the near south side into one traffic lane in each direction, plus a two-way center turn lane, and bike lanes on both sides. Currently, the street is two lanes in both directions. The Berkeley and Mistletoe Heights neighborhood associations sought the road diet to reduce speed and traffic accidents. Councilman Jungus Jordan, whose district includes arterials in southwest Fort Worth that combine to make Forest Park part of a diagonal route from downtown, wants the Road Diet put off until the Chisholm Trail Parkway is complete in 2014.

Mayor Betsy Price noted that the project will coincide with the summer’s re-opening of the Forest Park Pool., which will generate pedestrian traffic on the boulevard.

“This is a striping project,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, in three months, it can be re-evaluated. I think this’ll go a long way with helping the issues on Forest Park.”

Scott Nishimura, 817-390-7808; Twitter: @JScottNishimura

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