Fort Worth, which has been building an image as a bike-friendly city, has lost one of its champions with the sudden and surprising closure of Trinity Bicycles in Sundance Square.
The shop in the red brick West Sundance building at 343 Throckmorton St. has been locked, the lights have been turned off and the phone has gone unanswered since the week before Thanksgiving. Owner Bernie Scheffler, who moved his store to Sundance Square in February 2012 from South Main Street, didn’t respond to requests last week for comment.
Sundance Square management also has tried to reach Scheffler to no avail, spokeswoman Tracy Gilmour said in an email.
News of the store’s closure has been distressing to cyclists, who say they appreciated the attention to detail and personalized service. Scheffler, a one-time City Council candidate, has been a leading voice for cyclists in a city where even the mayor, Betsy Price, rides regularly.
“Word spread faster than grass in a wildfire that Trinity Bicycles is out of business,” said one customer, Robert Damora. “He was an advocate for bicycle commuting, and really passionate for trying to make Fort Worth a bike-friendly city.”
Employees at a competitor’s store, Colonel’s Bicycles at 851 Foch St. in Fort Worth’s popular West Seventh area, thought so much of Scheffler they often referred customers to him, mechanic Aubrey Williams said. He added that Trinity Bicycles offered services that Colonel’s Bicycles didn’t, including bike rentals. Gordon Dickson
Williams Sonoma cuts in Arlington
Williams Sonoma, which opened a big distribution center in south Arlington last year, is closing an upholstered furniture manufacturing unit at the facility.
In a WARN letter filed with the Texas Workforce Commission, the San Francisco-based cookware and home furnishings retailer said the closure at 4900 Sherry Street, in the Arlington Commerce Center neat I-20 and Texas 360, will affect 85 jobs and take effect on Jan. 19.
Pat Connelly, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, told the Star-Telegram that the company decided to consolidate the work at facilities in North Carolina and California. The upholstered furniture operation took up about 50,000 square feet of the 800,000-square-foot facility.
Connelly said Williams Sonoma employs about 440 at the distribution center, and expects employment there to grow as it continues to expand. The Arlington center serves the middle of the country for the retailer, which also operates the Pottery Barn chain.
“We’re very happy being in Arlington,” he said.
Alcon Experience comes to Fort Worth
Alcon marked the latest addition to its expanding south-side campus on Friday with the opening of a 36,000-square-foot education and training center it’s calling the Alcon Experience Center.
The eye-care leader, owned by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, will use the facility to provide hands-on training on its latest technologies for doctors from around the world. Alcon makes surgical equipment, devices such as intraocular lenses, pharmaceuticals to treat diseases such as glaucoma and contact lenses.
The facility includes wet labs for surgical training and interactive cataract and Lasik technologies. In addition to doctors, Alcon plans to host high school and college students to promote medical education.
Alcon has been adding to its Fort Worth campus since it was acquired by Novartis in 2011. In September, Novartis opened a $53 million data center at the campus, one of four it operates around the world, and the company has added a Finance Service Center there. Alcon now has about 5,000 employees in Fort Worth.
GE seeking tax exemption status
GE Manufacturing Solutions, the unit of GE that makes diesel-electric locomotives, last week received City Council support to have its far north Fort Worth plant designated for Foreign-Trade Zone tax exemption status.
The 1.7 million-square-foot plant, at 16201 and 16301 Three Wide Dr., also makes mining equipment.
The company has a Triple Freeport Exemption, which exempts an inventory tax by city, local county and school district on goods that it transports in and out of Texas within a 175-day period.
The company wants a Foreign-Trade Zone activation to receive an exemption on merchandising duties paid to the state, a city report said.
GE has invested more than $230 million in its Fort Worth plant, which should grow to about $500 million investment. It employs 650 workers in Fort Worth.
ACH to sell Summit Avenue property
Fort Worth-based real estate developers SCC Interests is under contract to buy the nearly 7-acre ACH Child & Family Services property at 1425 Summit Ave.
The City Council this past week approved changing the zoning on the property to “H” Central Business District. According to a city filing, the developer plans about 370 apartments at the site, just north of Interstate 30.
By the end of December, the nonprofit group, which serves children and families in crisis, said it will move its youth and residential shelter from Summit Avenue to a new facility at its Wichita Street campus, the former Masonic Home and School of Texas off Berry Street and U.S. 287. ACH has owned the Wichita property since 2010.
It will also move its behavioral care division off Summit Avenue to its Wedgwood campus, at Wonder Drive and Wrigley Way Drive in southwest Fort Worth, by month’s end.
Other office operations on Summit will move by April. The Summit Avenue property includes eight buildings that were built in the late 1950s. In 2011, Historic Fort Worth included the property on its Most Endangered Places list.
According to its website, SCC mostly has been involved in numerous retail developments in 14 states.
Goff buys Dallas properties
Fort Worth-based real estate investor John Goff has bought three more buildings in Dallas, in the Historic West End District of downtown.
Goff Capital Partners has partnered with Boston-based Long Wharf Real Estate Partners to buy 501 Elm St., 211 Record St. and 800 Jackson Ave. The office buildings total 182,844 square feet of space.
The buildings were all constructed in the early 1900s and are slated to receive new common areas and suite upgrades.
Long Wharf is a private equity real estate manager that invests on behalf of institutional clients, including public and corporate pension funds, endowments, foundation and family offices.