Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Twin sisters dreaming up new use for O.B. Macaroni Building

The three-story O.B. Macaroni Building at Vickery and South Freeway dates to the 1860s, when it was a stagecoach hotel.
The three-story O.B. Macaroni Building at Vickery and South Freeway dates to the 1860s, when it was a stagecoach hotel. Star-Telegram

For more than a century, pasta was made and shipped from the O.B. Macaroni Building, a landmark just south of downtown Fort Worth at Vickery Boulevard and the South Freeway in the shadow of the Mixmaster.

Now changes are coming to the three-story brick building, which has a new owner a year after the macaroni company moved to a more modern home in south Fort Worth.

M2G Ventures, formed two years ago by twins Jessica Miller and Susan Gruppi, bought the building last month. They are working on redevelopment plans for the O.B. site, but it’s unlikely to remain industrial, according to Natalie Pedigo, marketing manager for M2G.

So far, M2G has focused on retail and mixed-use projects including updates at The Crossing at Camp Bowie, a retail/restaurant center at the southwest quadrant of Camp Bowie Boulevard and Interstate 30, and renovations at 200 Carroll St. in Fort Worth. It’s also redeveloping the building at 1305 Magnolia St., where Great Harvest Bread Co. is preparing to open.

Its projects are highlighted with a Dreamer series of murals by artist Katie Murray, including the Dream on Dreamer work at The Crossing and Follow Your Dreams on Magnolia.

According to M2G, the O.B. Macaroni Building dates to the 1860s when it was originally a stagecoach hotel. It was converted into a pasta factory in the 1890s and O.B. Macaroni (that’s short for Our Best) operated there until last December. We reached out to O.B. for an update on the business but were unable to connect last week.

It will be interesting to see what M2G dreams up for the building, part of an aging industrial stretch that’s not too far from a wave of renovations and new development transforming neighborhoods south of downtown.

Port of Alliance

The intermodal hub at AllianceTexas contributed $6.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product last year, according to a new study by the Texas comptroller’s office.

“AllianceTexas is a huge economic engine for the state of Texas and will continue to be one for the next 25 years,” Comptroller Glenn Hegar said during a tour of Alliance last week. Hegar visited Fort Worth as part of a tour of several ports to highlight the importance of trade in the state economy.

Alliance, one of two inland ports in Texas, supports 45,000 direct jobs and generates $10.9 billion in economic activity, the study found.

“To be considered in the same league as the Port of Houston and other legacy economic engines in this state is truly remarkable,” said Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, which runs Alliance.

Texas’ ports of entry facilitated more than $631 billion in trade last year, supporting 1.6 million jobs. Trade contributes $224.3 billion to the gross state product and makes up about 14 percent of the state’s $1.6 trillion economy.

Hegar said he is touring the state’s ports to raise awareness about the importance of trade in Texas’ economy.

The tour comes as President-elect Donald Trump has raised concerns in Texas with his stated intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

“If you look at the traffic that moves from here and goes out within 24 hours, 48 hours, it moves all around the country, so it’s critical that we maintain [NAFTA],” Hegar said. “I also think at the same time, it’s critical you look at the trade deals and make sure that we’re keeping them modern in 2016.”

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has already reached out to the area’s congressional delegation to provide information on the importance of NAFTA and trade with Mexico.

“We don’t think NAFTA is broken. We think the numbers speak for themselves,” Bill Thornton, president of the Fort Worth Chamber, told a group of editors and writers during a visit to the Star-Telegram last week. “We’re a winner in this deal.”

Before NAFTA, Hegar said, Laredo’s port of entry didn’t even rank in the top 20 and now it’s No. 3 in the country in import volume, Hegar said.

“It’s always good to have a fresh look, however, maintaining that free trade is critical not only for this state but critical for this nation,” Hegar said.

Looking for Trump relief

Count GM Financial among the companies hoping for some regulatory relief under the incoming Trump administration.

Dan Berce, the Fort Worth-based auto lender’s president and CEO, told us last week that his industry has been regulated more than ever in recent years thanks to the emergence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“We’re hoping that the regulatory pendulum might start shifting back to the middle,” Berce said in Arlington, where he helped dedicate the latest expansion of its sprawling Operations Center campus.

Berce said GM Financial has had to make significant investments in compliance management systems to formalize training programs and meet new demands for tracking loans made to different demographic groups.

GM Financial has been on a growth surge since it became the captive finance unit for the Detroit automaker, moved into prime lending and took over leasing for GM sales. Assets have increased to $82 billion from $65.9 billion at the end of 2015 and should reach about $90 billion by year’s end.

While auto sales have plateaued this year, the company expects steady business in 2017, with rising interest rates unlikely to affect industry sales or GM Financial, Berce said.

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko