FORT WORTH — More than 60 residents and business owners turned out Thursday evening to hear about proposed zoning changes for the Historic Stockyards District, with questions focused on what efforts will be taken to make sure future buildings complement the district and how added development might affect traffic.The public meeting was the first step in a zoning process initiated by the City Council in the wake of the announcement of a proposed $175 million development in the district. The council proposed changing part of the Stockyards zoning from heavy industrial to planned development/mixed use with a site plan required for the development.The new zoning allows for residential uses, but city staff is also suggesting a list of 16 other uses to be added. Those include such things as a brewery, distillery or winery, a circus and gambling, including bingo. At the 90-minute meeting Thursday at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Stockyards, Dana Burghdoff, deputy director of the city’s planning and development department, made a 30-minute presentation on the proposed changes.Then she opened the meeting up for questions. She was asked several questions about how similar zoning changes in other areas of town were achieved and how those are working out.Burghdoff said the City Council initiated the changes because of concerns about protecting the historic character of the Stockyards, which she said “are so important to the Fort Worth Stockyards and so important to our future.”Requiring a site plan on future building adds several review steps at the city, including Zoning Commission and City Council approval for what would be built.“That’s a significant change,” Burghdoff said. The zoning brings the district in compliance with the city’s comprehensive plan, she said. The west side of Main Street is already zoned mixed-use and many of the structures in the Stockyards are designated as local and state landmarks, which carry regulatory implications if changes are suggested.The Zoning Commission is scheduled to hear the case July 9 and will make a recommendation to the City Council.The council is to vote on the changes on July 15.The proposed changes would cover roughly 152.7 acres bounded by Northeast 23rd Street on the south, North Main Street on the west, Northeast 28th Street on the north and the Fort Worth & Western railroad on the east. Fort Worth’s Hickman family, which owns about 80 acres in the historical district and more in partnerships, said it has partnered with Majestic Realty Co. of California, family-owned and one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the country, to build hotels, restaurants and shops, residential units and other tourist attractions over the next decade.About 68 acres of the Hickman holdings are involved in the planned development with Majestic.At its June 10 meeting, the council heard nearly two hours of public comment before it voted to approve an economic development agreement. But with that approval came caveats that city staff and council members would be closely watching to make sure the proposed development doesn’t disturb the Stockyard’s historic character, but blends in as well. The economic development agreement will not take effect until the zoning change is in place. Building permits also cannot be issued until the new zoning is in place. The incentive is capped at $26 million based on the value of today’s dollar. The incentive will be paid in 25 annual payments and is based on 40 percent of the incremental real and business personal property tax of the investment, and 80 percent of the one-cent sales tax revenue. If the project reaches the potential spelled out by the developers, city estimates show, in gross dollars, that the Hickman-Heritage group could receive as much as $67 million over the course of the 25 years. The developers must invest $175 million in the project in the next decade to receive the full incentive; otherwise the amount is reduced.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST