Hell-bent for Fort Worth Stockyards development

07/19/2014 12:00 AM

07/18/2014 7:20 PM

As the Fort Worth City Council continues to drive the $175 million Stockyards development plan from California-based Majestic Properties, I hope council members will cautiously listen to and apply the prudent and legitimate concerns of local residents to their decision-making and votes.

It is problematic that we still don’t know what designs the developer has in mind or how they hope to accommodate the thousands of daily visitors and residents of their properties or how they plan to do address the increase in traffic to the historic district.

If you’re proud of something, show it off. Sundance Square, Trinity River Vision, the Firestone & Robertson distillery and others have all offered detailed images to sell their ideas.

Whenever a big project is being proposed, an architect usually creates a beautiful image with little people, trees, flags, cars and the building. They’re proud of their design and want others to see it.

In a matter of weeks and against sage advice, the council has expedited a tax break and zoning change for the proposed Stockyards development. The plan’s been called a vision, but all Majestic provides is a zoning map with colored squares and bullet points.

Since taxpayers are on the hook for possibly $26 million or more, it is hardly unreasonable to ask the developers to share details on what they want to do prior to a crowded zoning commission meeting. They want to be corporate citizens of our city, so let’s let them be good neighbors too.

Majestic’s bullet points propose:

• a quarter of a million square feet of offices;
• restaurants covering 130,000 square feet;
• a third of a million square feet of stores;
• another third of a million square feet for hotels;
• more than a half-million square feet of apartments;
• a sales barn for livestock auctions.

But they include just 1,200 parking spaces for all the people who’ll work, visit, and live there to park their cars, trucks, stock trailers, buses, delivery vans and 18-wheelers.

Majestic’s specialty is building shopping centers that maximize square footage for a good return on investment.

The desire for profits is what created the Stockyards, but Majestic’s short experience in historic districts coupled with the obvious shortage of parking outlined in the limited information they have shared leads even the mildly critical mind to question how they hope to accommodate the volume and relative sizes of the vehicles expected to be parked on their properties.

In addition, there are just two primary routes into the Stockyards (hint: they’re on the same road).

You can take Main Street south from the north or you can take Main Street north from the south. That’s it.

From there, you can take Stockyards Boulevard, Exchange Avenue or and 23rd Street.

These streets and the businesses on them can expect increased traffic and construction. And the ubiquitous bicycles for rent and bike lanes spreading across town may only constrict the flow of traffic more.

If you want to sell something, show a picture. If you want to go somewhere in Texas, you’re going to need to park your truck. And, if you really want to get to that place that has no parking, you’re still going to have to drive there.

The zoning commission refused to endorse this stampede. There are too many unanswered, unasked and unanticipated questions.

The council continues to implore residents to “trust us” with their words, but their expedited, hell-bent-for-leather hearings and votes inspire little confidence.

This is the council we have, so trust should be offered. But in return the council should offer verification.

John Murrin Pritchett lives in Fort Worth.

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