A rock quarry can scar otherwise-pristine land, but there are beautiful examples around the world of these old mining pits being repurposed as nature parks, recreational areas and tourist attractions.
And now, Fort Worth residents soon will have a recycled quarry of their own.
A project known as Quarry Falls is planned on an 80-acre site in north Fort Worth, just north of Loop 820 between Meacham Airport and Saginaw. The area, which is accessible by Old Decatur Road, was home to a limestone-mining operation that closed in the 1970s and is now flanked by a sprawling residential area.
The developer plans to build condominiums, apartments, two hotels, a conference center and 3,500-seat music venue — all of it surrounding a lake with a beach, splash park and Ferris wheel. All told, the construction could cost up to $280 million.
"We want the people in the neighborhood to come over and use the beach and enjoy the retail," said Ed Casebier, a Hurst resident and president of Renaissance Development, the lead company in the project. He said the construction could begin later this year and likely will take three to four years.
Residents of the apartments and condos will have immediate access to the attractions, and Casebier said he is working on a plan to give residents of nearby neighborhoods a discount for admission, similar to what the NRH2O water park does for residents of North Richland Hills.
"Everyone who lives in that area will have access to it," he said.
Although most of the work on Quarry Falls is planned for north of Loop 820, a 1,000-car parking lot is planned for south of the freeway. An old underpass once used by limestone trucks is available to shuttle guests from the parking lot on the south side of Loop 820 to the attractions on the north side.
A music venue with a capacity of roughly 3,500 people will book well-known musical acts, including those that play at places such as Gilley's Dallas/South Side Music Hall and House of Blues in Dallas. Casebier envisions the entertainment venue being used for musical acts about two days a week and business events the rest of the week.
The development would include restaurants and bars, two hotels totaling 300 rooms and a Ferris wheel up to 135 feet tall.
The Fort Worth project is unique but not alone. Efforts are underway globally to make use of abandoned quarries.
In Louisville, Ky., a former 100-acre limestone mine was converted to Louisville Mega Cavern, an attraction that includes a dirt bike track, zip lines and an overhead tram.
Near Shanghai, China, a luxurious, 19-story Shimao Wonderland InterContinental Hotel is being built in an old stone quarry and is scheduled to open later this year.
In Kansas City, Mo., a Subtropolis business park and data center is part of an underground network that includes 20 million square feet of space.
The Fort Worth project was approved March 6 by the City Council, after Casebier's firm and its partner companies requested several zoning changes to make the plan work.
"This is a very ambitious and worthwhile project," said Councilman Carlos Flores, whose district includes the area.
The meeting was also attended by Kathy Hamilton, president of the Trailwood Estates Neighborhood Association, which includes hundreds of homes north of the planned Quarry Falls. Hamilton initially had expressed concerns about traffic in the area, particularly along Old Decatur Road, although after conferring with Casebier told council members she did not object to the project.
As part of the Quarry Falls plan, a two-lane portion of Old Decatur Road will be widened to four lanes with a traffic signal. City officials said they had plans for other traffic-related improvements in the area, although details weren't provided.
The area land was mined from the 1920s until the 1970s. It was operated by Trinity Portland and General Portland, before it was acquired by Lafarge.
As the hole grew from the limestone-harvesting efforts, a large lake was formed — and it remains there today. The water level is controlled by a valve system under Loop 820 that allows water to drain into Cement Creek.
In 1989 some buildings on the property were demolished.
Developer Tom Blanton, Casebier's partner, acquired the property in 2002. Blanton died in 2014.
Casebier and Blanton worked together on projects that included the T&P building restoration in downtown Fort Worth.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.