Three years after buying the property, a Fort Worth Stockyards development group is planning a $21 million, 120-room hotel called the Armour Hotel and has asked the city for an incentive on the project.
The City Council heard terms of a proposed $1 million incentive Tuesday for the project planned off East Exchange Avenue.
Under those terms, the group, Niles City Resort Ltd., would be required to invest a minimum of $21 million by December 2019 to develop a four-star hotel. The hotel would be required to have at least 40 full-time employees on staff a year later.
Michael Henning, with the city’s economic development department, said the developers asked for the incentive when they upgraded their design to meet Stockyards design standards and found the cost of materials much greater.
The hotel’s facade must be masonry and reflect the historical and architectural heritage of the Stockyards, according to the terms.
The development group, which will own and operate the hotel, includes longtime Stockyards businessmen Philip and Steve Murrin and Don Jury, and Max Reising, president of Reising Development in Southlake. It also includes John Martillo, owner and CEO of credit card processing company SignaPay in Irving.
Philip Murrin said the five-story hotel is the first in a three-phased project at the site. Construction should start in early 2018 and the hotel be open by spring of 2019, he said.
The investors bought the 16.8-acre property from Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy. The site, at the northeast corner of East Exchange Avenue and Packers Street, is the former sprawling Armour meatpacking plant and later Bunge Edible Oil Co.
Reising, who is developing a Fairfield Inn & Suites at Alliance, said the hotel only takes a portion of that land and that they are working on plans for the remainder of the property.
“We’ve got a ton of different options we’re looking at,” Reising said. “As far as breaking it down right now, we don’t know. There’s master designs out there.”
The incentive would be paid out over 15 years as a reimbursement of some of the city’s portion of the property tax. To receive the full incentive, Nile City Resort will have to meet spending and hiring requirements with Fort Worth companies and with women- and minority-owned firms.
The council will vote on the incentive Oct.17.
On Tuesday, most of the council expressed support for the project.
“This is an early segue in the development of that area,” said Councilman Dennis Shingleton. “This building will set the precedent of what the other buildings should be. That message is a little bit overdue.”
The council came under fire more than three years ago when it approved a $26 million, 25-year incentive to the Majestic Realty Group and the Hickman family for a proposed $175 million redevelopment in the Stockyards, primarily along East Exchange Avenue. The project raised the public’s ire that the character and heritage of the Stockyards would be lost in any new development.
That led to a lengthy public process that established standards and guidelines for development in and around the Stockyards on the north side. Majestic has started redeveloping the mule barns, but have not gone beyond that. They, too, have hotels planned as well as residences and offices.
“In my meetings with the Heritage folks, Majestic, they are still deliberating amongst themselves what kind of design language they’re going to have for the Stockyards,” said Councilman Carlos Flores. “The Majestic folks are a bit delayed on it. Maybe this will light a fire ... and set it in the appropriate direction.”
The Murrin family owns other land in the Stockyards. Last month, the family also bought 9.3 acres at 600 NE 23rd St. from Chesapeake. The land is adjacent to Murrin's River Ranch property, at 500 NE 23rd St. They also have a stake in the famous Stockyards honky-tonk Billy Bob’s.
Chesapeake bought the Bunge Oil property in 2007 as a potential drill site but demolished the structures. Chesapeake also considered the site for its regional headquarters.
The Armour meatpacking plant opened in 1903 alongside the Swift & Co. plant on the east side of the Stockyards and closed the facility in 1962. Bunge Edible Oil refined soybean and corn oil there for more than 30 years.