Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

XTO may build a parking garage on downtown block

Note: This column was published on April 4, 2015.

XTO Energy is looking into building a parking garage on a lot it owns near most of its office buildings in downtown Fort Worth.

The oil and gas producer has given the development community until April 18 to submit project proposals for an 800-car garage which might also include retail and office space, said Suann Guthrie, XTO spokeswoman.

The company is considering the garage to help ease parking issues for its 2,000 downtown workers, she said.

The subsidiary of Exxon Mobil owns six office buildings downtown but also leases space in 777 Main and the Fort Worth Club building, she said.

The company will evaluate the proposals and then decide whether to do a project, Guthrie said.

“We’re in the very early stages,” she said. “There’s no decision to move forward at this time. We’re still a few months off before we’ll make a decision.”

The garage would be built on the lot bounded by Houston, Throckmorton, Sixth and Seventh streets. The lot has been used for employee surface parking for several years.

In 2006, XTO imploded the 30-story Landmark Tower at the southeast corner of the lot. Once known as the Texas Building, it was built in 1952 for Continental National Bank and was expanded in 1957.

XTO, then led by Bob Simpson, who now runs MorningStar Oil & Gas and co-owns the Texas Rangers baseball team, bought the property in 2004 at auction.

At the time of the demolition, XTO didn’t own the full city block and never moved forward with plans to build on the site. The company had considered a 50-story office tower there. Exxon acquired XTO Energy in 2010.

In August, XTO acquired the land it didn’t already own, including 5,000 square feet along Houston from Lenore B. McClister and 12,500 square feet along Sixth between Throckmorton and Houston from the Marshall Living Trust, according to deed records.

Tweet wins a FitBit at DFW

Checking in on Facebook or sending a tweet at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport during spring break brought a few surprises for travelers hanging out in the terminals.

After one traveler tweeted that he was heading to Las Vegas to run in his first marathon, the airport staff found him at his gate and gave him a Fitbit.

Another couple posted on social media that they were going to Chicago to celebrate their anniversary, and airport staff greeted them with flowers and a few other small gifts.

The freebies and gifts, which cost the airport $800, were part of the airport’s spring break customer engagement campaign.

“We had a team of 16 people and we staffed it for 10 to 12 hours each day for a two-day period in spring break,” Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of revenue management, told the airport board at its meeting Thursday.

Buchanan said the airport had 380 customer engagements via Twitter over the two-day period with 7.8 million potential impressions from 175 mentions. The airport staff also reached 17,432 people on Facebook through 327 engagements.

The airport plans to do similar campaigns during upcoming holiday travel periods, so the next time you’re sitting at your gate, you might want to tweet or check in on Facebook.

Uncertainty on oil prices

Oil prices, which have fallen more than 50 percent in less than a year to $50 a barrel, should move back to $60 a barrel by the end of the year, according to Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust Bank. But there are a lot of variables.

Tannenbaum, the bank’s chief economist, was in town Wednesday to share his view of the world economy with clients at the City Club. He said that the U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum, despite slowdowns in China and Europe, and that lower oil prices will provide boost for consumers.

But while the Chicago-based bank expects prices to gradually rise by year’s end, there’s a potentially wide range. If a nuclear deal is completed with Iran enabling that country to re-enter the global oil markets, prices could drop to $30. And if conflicts flare up in the Middle East, prices could shoot up to $100, he said.

In the meantime, Tannenbaum expects the Federal Reserve Board to announce its first interest rate increase in September and move slowly on rates after that.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631

Twitter: @Sky_Talk

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

Steve Kaskovich, 817-390-7773

Twitter: @stevekasko