Redeveloping Fort Worth Stockyards is worth investment

06/10/2014 10:53 AM

11/12/2014 6:06 PM

You need only look at the silhouette of a longhorn steer adorning the city logo to know how much Fort Worthians value their Western heritage.

But in recent years, investment in the Stockyards, one of the city’s iconic areas, has flatlined, and many of its characteristic features — mule barns and cattle pens — are in disrepair.

Preserving the city’s proud legacy before it further erodes is one of the driving forces behind a new $175 million redevelopment project planned for the historic Stockyards district.

Once completed, the project would feature 1 million square feet of redevelopment and new development in retail, commercial, office and/or multifamily space, including two more hotels, residences and livestock auctions.

And 1,200 new parking spaces would be paved to accommodate the many tourists who flock to Cowtown.

It isn’t any wonder that the proposed three-phase plan, funded by a partnership between the Hickman family and Majestic Realty Co., was met with enthusiasm when presented to the City Council on Tuesday.

“Fort Worth is where the West begins. … If you want to think about Texas, if you want to think about Fort Worth, I can’t think of a better place to be than the Stockyards,” said Councilman Sal Espino, whose district includes the historic area.

We quite agree. But this investment in Fort Worth will require an investment from Fort Worth.

The project backers have asked the city for as much as $26 million in economic development incentives over 25 years and the establishment of a tax increment finance district in the Stockyards.

The incentive agreement would require that 30 percent of hard construction costs be spent on local businesses, 25 percent on minority/women businesses.

And if multifamily rental is part of the project, 20 percent of all rental units will be set aside for quality affordable housing. An initial council vote on the incentive plan is scheduled Tuesday.

Mayor Betsy Price says, “This [project] could spark a new chapter in the Stockyards area.”

She may be right.

If she is, this is an investment in the city and its legacy that should be worth it.

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