Consultants hired to help a special Fort Worth Stockyards committee establish design guidelines for future development made little progress at their first meeting with the group Wednesday when tempers started to flare among business and property owners who feel decisions regarding that work have already been completed behind closed doors.
Consultants Randy Gideon and Cassie King, hired in March, met with the 15-member Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force and a couple of dozen Stockyards stakeholders to begin establishing the design standards that will guide development in the Historic Stockyards District. The consultants were hired by the Fort Worth Stockyards Business Association.
Gideon was in the midst of suggesting that the task force start talking about possible design standards by five “character zones,” or sections of the Stockyards, when task force member Don Jury said he felt the committee was being “spoon-fed” decisions already made by the city staff and the consultants, and accused the mayor and City Council of not living up to their commitment to have transparency.
The City Council established the task force to make sure business and property owners had input in making sure a multimillion-dollar development planned for the historic Fort Worth Stockyards doesn’t damage the district’s historic integrity.
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The project has been met with opposition since Hickman Investments announced last spring it had partnered with Los Angeles-based Majestic Realty in the $175 million project. The City Council approved $26 million in tax incentives for the project, which could bring hotels, residences, offices and livestock auctions to the district.
“We need input from the building and land owners. I think that’s the next steps,” said Eric Hahnfeld, task force chairman. “This was just a place to start, how to proceed to the next level,” he said of the consultants’ presentation.
Josh Wheeler, a Majestic executive who will oversee the development, told the task force his group has not yet reached a master plan they are comfortable with, but not having design guidelines is slowing that process.
“We are making strides,” Wheeler said. “We want to do it right and thoughtfully. We can’t do too much until we have guidelines.”
All the land for the project should be conveyed to the partnership by the end of June, Wheeler said.
The Hickman-Majestic group plans to develop property on the north and south sides of East Exchange Avenue between Northeast 23rd and Northeast 28th streets, and the former Swift-Armour packing plant area east of Packers Avenue.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727