Greg Bird says it’s an old joke: You want to start a downturn in the oil business, build a building.
But Bird, president and CEO of Jetta Operating, hopes his new 25-story office tower in downtown Fort Worth will be the exception to the rule.
“I’m glad we waited for the downturn and then said we’d build it. Maybe we can change that,” Bird said after a presentation to the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce on Friday. “We’ve planned for this for many years. … Our business is down now, but it won’t be down forever.”
Marketing for available space in the new $115 million building at Taylor and Sixth streets has just begun, Bird said. Last month it was announced that Frost Bank will be the name tenant, taking over 73,000 square feet. Construction will begin this year and be completed by 2017.
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The tower is being developed by Anthracite Realty Partners, a development company owned by Bird’s oil-and-gas company, Jetta Operating. His company will move 140 employees onto three floors, while Frost will take another three floors as well as retail space on the lobby level.
As a family and a developer we’re looking at this as a unique opportunity now.
Greg Bird, CEO of Jetta Operating
A model of the building was on display Friday along with a 3-D view of the new tower on iPads sitting nearby.
Bird told the crowd that the building, touted as the first high-rise development downtown in seven years, was carefully designed to fit into the available urban landscape. He said it uses native stone, light, glass and steel in a tasteful way.
“I think it is a continuation of what we have as a great city. Fort Worth has built a great tradition; we’ve had people work really hard to build a downtown that is a wonderful place to live, a wonderful place to work. Our building just adds to that,” Bird said.
“As a family and a developer, we’re looking at this as a unique opportunity now,” he said.
As far as commodity prices, Bird called himself an optimist and said he expects prices to go up, not necessarily to $90 to $100 a barrel, but to the $60-$70 range. Oil has been trading in the mid-$40s in recent weeks. Jetta operates more than 1,000 wells with a concentration in the Texas Gulf Coast and West Texas regions as well as the Appalachian Basin in eastern Kentucky.
“I think going into 2017 we’ll be able to come out of the gates and be ready to keep moving ahead and collaborate to do the job we need to do as an oil company,” Bird said.