A 254-page final draft document that spells out development standards and guidelines for the historic Fort Worth Stockyards and adjacent areas has been released, reigniting concerns of some City Council members about long-standing parking issues for the area.
District 2 Councilman Sal Espino, whose district includes the Stockyards, raised those concerns and in particular parking for the city-owned Coliseum on Exchange Avenue in the heart of the Stockyards, during a recent City Council work session.
Parking locations were not required to be in the draft form-based code and design guidelines book, rather it references code for landscaping parking lots, screening for parking structures and setback rules.
We’ve got to be very careful how we do parking. I’ve been a broken record on parking. It’s both in the public and private interests we have the parking issue addressed.
Sal Espino, District 2 councilman
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“We’ve got to be very careful how we do parking,” Espino said. “I’ve been a broken record on parking. It’s both in the public and private interests we have the parking issue addressed.”
Espino’s remarks came after Lee Einsweiler, with Austin-based Code Studio, the consultant hired to write the code book that will be used to guide future development, gave an update on their work. The draft document is available on the city’s website.
The Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission is scheduled to get its first look at the code Monday, followed by the Urban Design Commission on Feb. 23 and the Zoning Commission on March 8. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the code on April 8.
The public has had extensive opportunities to provide suggestions for developing the code, as well as new zoning and a historic district for the Stockyards and surrounding area. In May 2016, Code Studio conducted a weeklong public deliberation on the form-based code and design guidelines that drew hundreds of residents. An initial draft of the book was released in November for public comment.
The council sought the largely public process after making assurances when they approved an economic development incentive for a $175 million redevelopment of a large portion of the Stockyards, that the character of the Stockyards would not be lost. All along, parking has been one of their top concerns as well, particularly for the horse and livestock trailers.
In June 2014, the City Council approved property and sales tax incentives for the Stockyards Heritage project valued at the time at $26 million. Because the incentives will be paid out over 25 years if the developers meet investment goals set by city staff, estimates are the value of the incentives could swell to about $67 million.
Not enough land
Einsweiler said the draft document addressed the majority of the public’s concern, but parking was still an issue because the land now used for parking for the Coliseum will shrink as the area is developed. The strongest controls on development are in the core of the Stockyards, he said.
You don’t have a bunch of land up there except for the storm pond and we can’t get rid of the storm pond in order to park on it. We really don’t have a good option for the city to park its own facility right this minute.
Lee Einsweiler, Code Studio principal and Stockyards consultant
“The most problematic component of it … is really the parking for the Coliseum, which has been inadequately parked for many, many years and has survived. You don’t have a bunch of land up there except for the storm pond and we can’t get rid of the storm pond in order to park on it. We really don’t have a good option for the city to park its own facility right this minute.”
Einsweiler said some “very good conversations” with Stockyards property owners have taken place for trailer parking for events. The code does address designs for pedestrian and livestock pathways to the Coliseum, he said.
“Frankly, 50 years from now if we don’t have livestock here anymore we’ve lost the whole idea of the Stockyards,” Einsweiler said.
District 6 Councilman Jungus Jordan told Einsweiler that parking for the Coliseum is more than a concern, but is “a top priority and we need to address that.”
Espino said a public-private partnership may need to happen regarding that parking.
“It’s still early enough in the process,” Espino said. “We can still get it done. There has to be someplace to park.”