Newly-elected Fort Worth Councilman Cary Moon is leading an investor group that recently bought the historic former Arlington Theatre, the adjacent Babe’s Chicken Dinner House building and two development tracts on Division Street near Arlington City Hall.
“It was a good fit for us,” said Moon, a developer. “Downtown Arlington is revitalized. There’s a lot of momentum in the area.”
Moon said the group plans to begin construction in about eight months on Trinity Tap House tavern, a 2,400-square-foot indoor bar and restaurant with a 2,000-square-foot patio. It will be built on one of the tracts, at the southwest corner of Center and Division streets. The second tract will be sold, he said.
Moon led development of the Trinity Tavern off Texas 360 and Trinity Boulevard in 2010, as well as Dalton’s Corner in Burleson and Keller Tavern in Keller. It’s in the process of building Texas Bleu, a fine-dining steakhouse in Keller.
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Moon and a group of investors bought the property on May 22 under the entity Center Street Complex Llc. from developer Burk Collins, according to deed records. Collins bought the property in 2008 from the late country-western singer Johnnie High, who for many years operated the building as the Arlington Music Hall, featuring Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue.
Tony Rutigliano, president and CEO of Downtown Arlington Inc., said the project “will just add to significant momentum” in downtown.
“It will be exciting to see what he can turn the music hall into,” Rutigliano said. “I’ve only heard second-hand what they’re wanting to do, but that fits perfectly with what we’re trying to do.”
Downtown Arlington continues to undergo a renaissance. Nearby, at the northeast corner of West and Front streets, restaurant developers have won city approval for Woody’s Backyard, a bar, grill and outdoor dining venue. The developers are behind Dodie’s Place Cajun Bar & Grill in Allen.
And just to the south of the Arlington Music Hall, at Center and Abram streets, Atlanta-based Integral Development and Dallas-based Catalyst Development plan to raze the city’s former library to begin work on a $43 million development featuring apartments, shops, restaurants and offices in its place.
Collins renovated the 1950s theater and called his development Center Street Station when he attracted Babe’s to the site at 224 N. Center St. The project received $1.2 million in tax increment finance funding from the city of Arlington.
Other restaurant deals never came through and in 2014, Collins settled a two-year court case with Southwest Securities, which attempted to foreclose on the property in 2012. The lender said Collins was in default on a $4 million note.
Moon credits the role Collins and his wife, Jean, had in preserving and developing the property.
Now, Moon said, he and his partners will take the 1,100-seat music venue to the next level. He plans to make about $50,000 in upgrades, including improving its food concessions, and is hiring a curator to run the facility and oversee productions of annual Christmas shows and a kid’s show in July.
They’ve already lined up the rock group Kansas, the Oakridge Boys and Brenda Lee to perform this fall, he said.
“It’s a very quaint theater that artists enjoy playing in,” Moon said. “There will be a lot more activity.”
Moon won the District 4 seat on the Fort Worth City Council May 9, beating incumbent Danny Scarth. He is a partner of Fort Worth-based Castle Development Group, a commercial development and real estate firm. He also does business with Moon Financial, a holding company for a portfolio of residential properties.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727