About 4 million square feet of new businesses have sprung up in north Fort Worth in the three-plus years since traffic improvements were completed on Loop 820, one of the area's business leaders says.
The city's Mercantile Center, an office park/manufacturing/distribution center anchored near the southeast corner of Interstate 35W and Loop 820, is experiencing growth that could have an economic impact of $400 million, said Brian Randolph, president of Mercantile Partners LP, which manages the area.
Randolph said that, although the distribution area has been growing gradually for decades, a full-fledged growth spurt began shortly after the North Tarrant Express project was completed in 2014. The project included a makeover of Loop 820 and Texas 121/183 "Airport Freeway" that included the reconstruction of main lanes, ramps and frontage roads and the addition of two toll lanes in each direction.
A private consortium, NTE Mobility Partners, provided much of the up-front funding to build North Tarrant Express in exchange for the right to collect tolls on the TEXPress lanes to repay their investment over 52 years. Many of the same partners in the consortium are now expanding I-35W from downtown Fort Worth to Heritage Trace Parkway in far north Fort Worth — and that project is on track to be completed by September.
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"As the traffic congestion is relieved and access is improved by new highway infrastructure, there has been exceptionally high interest in our location," Randolph said. "It really began with the opening of the North Tarrant Express. The influx of new businesses is happening at a rate we have never seen in the past."
Some of the new tenants:
▪ Teague Nall and Perkins, an engineering and survey firm, relocated their headquarters from downtown in 2016. The new facility is at 5237 N. Riverside Dr.
▪ Parker Hannifin secured the former Sprint Call Center in 2017 to relocate their operations from west Fort Worth. The new facility is at 4701 Mercantile Drive, and it's a 150,000-square-foot building with potential expansion of another 50,000 square feet.
▪ TTI, an electronics distributor, built a new 550,000-square-foot assembly and distribution facility earlier this year at 2601 Sylvania Cross Drive.
▪ S&S Activewear opened a 493,000-square-foot distribution facility at 2601 Leamside Drive in late 2017
▪ DHL is continually expanding their logistics operations in the area, at several locations inside and just outside Mercantile.
▪ Woods Distribution Solutions began logistics operations last year in the former Bombay warehouse, 2900 Meacham Blvd.
Other businesses already in the Mercantile area include: SkyCam, Carrier, Interstate Batteries, Safelite Auto and TD Industries.
One huge property yet to be leased to a major new tenant is Gourley Plaza, the former FAA Southwest Regional Headquarters at Sylvania Avenue and Meacham Boulevard. The 300,000-square-foot, 6-story office building has undergone a $13 million renovation, and Mercantile Center officials hope to announce a new tenant soon.