Fort Worth riverfront development looks like a winner

02/19/2014 5:59 PM

02/19/2014 6:00 PM

Fort Worth is considering $18.5 million in public incentives for a 63-acre development on prime riverfront land on the city’s southwest side.

That’s a lot of money, planned as rebates on some sales and property taxes gained by the city during the development’s first 15 years. A City Council vote is expected March 4.

It’s frustrating for taxpayers to see money flowing out to help developers with multimillion-dollar investments.

And not all the deals turn out well. They have to be examined case by case. This one, although not totally free of troubling points, looks like a winner.

Start with the land. It’s part of the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association property off Bryant Irvin Road, along the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.

It’s pristine acreage already surrounded by development, some of it high-dollar.

The development plan would capitalize on the location with public amenities, including a riverfront park, trails and a public area. For too long, Fort Worth has failed to take advantage of the natural beauty of the Trinity River.

The developer is Trademark Property Co., whose CEO, Terry Montesi, has been involved in Fort Worth real estate development and leasing for three decades.

Finally, projections say Fort Worth and other local taxing entities still benefit — a lot. The $18.5 million incentive package is tied to a minimum $185 million private investment. The total local tax benefit is expected to be more than $110 million.

Fort Worth requires 25-30 percent of the construction costs to be paid to local contractors, part of it to businesses led by minorities and women. Annual minimum supply and service expenditures must also go to local businesses.

The only worry about the proposal might be that much of the project is still being designed. Although the deal specifies how much commercial and residential space must be built in each of three development phases, exactly what that will look like is still up in the air.

But Fort Worth can cancel incentives if things go astray. And for the developers, there’s too much at stake to mess it up.

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