At first blush, when XTO Energy announced early in 2017 that it would move the bulk of its Fort Worth employees to Houston beginning in 2018, it felt as if downtown was getting punched in the gut.
Although it wasn’t the news anyone wanted to hear, downtown leaders are instead looking at the company’s move as an opportunity. This comes at a time when Fort Worth has set its sights on attracting several corporate relocations in the next five years.
XTO will be leaving about 350 employees in Fort Worth after the move of about 1,600 employees is complete in 2020, said XTO spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry.
Why is this important?
XTO owns several downtown office buildings and the company said it will sell all but one. The Petroleum Building is under contract and was expected to close by the end of 2017.
Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., an advocacy organization, said having the office buildings on the market opens up space for new hotels, residences and companies.
Already, a tract off Ninth and Commerce streets was sold to Southern Land Co., a Nashville-based developer planning a 32-story apartment tower, the first high-rise exclusively built for residences downtown.
“The buildings they are putting on the market have received a lot of attention,” Taft said. “They’ll sell fast. This could lead to additional new construction. It’s a rare opportunity for new owners to find a piece of downtown.”
The move to ExxonMobil’s Houston campus will occur in two phases, with the majority of the employees relocating to Houston mid-2018, and the remaining employees in mid-2020, Eikenberry said. Those employees moving in 2018 will do so in a staged approach over three weekends in the summer, he said.
XTO’s move will not include its central division and employees in the field supporting Barnett Shale operations, who will remain in Fort Worth, Eikenberry said.
46,214 jobs in downtown Fort Worth, according to Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s 2016 Annual Report.
13.8 million total square-footage of downtown office buildings.