Fort Worth

Historic preservation concerns surface during Fort Worth Stockyards meeting

The Fort Worth Stockyards hosts western-themed events such as the annual Red Stegall Trail Ride. This one was in October 2011.
The Fort Worth Stockyards hosts western-themed events such as the annual Red Stegall Trail Ride. This one was in October 2011. Star-Telegram

An executive with California-based Majestic Realty Group told a special task force meeting Wednesday that his firm expects to have concept designs for a $175 million project in the historic district ready in June for them to see.

Then he challenged two other task force members with substantial Stockyards holdings to also share their development plans.

“We’re not the only ones” planning developments in the Stockyards, said Craig Cavileer, Majestic’s executive vice president, who is serving on the 15-member Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force.

He pointedly asked Don Jury and Steve Murrin, who were in the audience, to do the same regarding their holdings off North Main Street on the city’s near north side.

Jury, who controls about 40 acres in the Stockyards, including 16 acres on the far east side of Exchange Avenue, said he would.

Murrin, whose son Phillip Murrin serves on the task force, said he wouldn’t because his plans will likely have to change based on what Majestic does.

“Until we know what the big dogs are doing … all the little guys plans are going to change,” said Murrin, who owns property off of Northeast 23rd Street.

The Stockyards task force Wednesday began reviewing a consultants’ draft outline of proposed design standards and guidelines. For the first time, the consultants released a map proposing that the design overlay district boundaries stretch a few blocks to the north, west and east beyond what is commonly considered the Stockyards district.

But as consultant Randy Gideon was presenting the ordinance outline, discussion veered to historic preservation. Some task force members said they are still confused about what they are supposed to accomplish.

“I have never clearly understood what our responsibility was,” Jury said.

Jury said nothing being presented addressed preservation concerns, even though he believed that’s what the City Council charged the group to do. Jury said he was approached by two council members in social settings in December and January who told to him, “Don’t screw it up.”

After the meeting, Jury declined to name the council members.

Last week, the consultants completed a series of five public meetings to gather comments from stakeholders about the design guidelines, including on such things as building height limits and architectural styles.

At a pre-council meeting Tuesday, council members reiterated their promise to maintain the Stockyards heritage.

Councilman Sal Espino, whose district includes the Stockyards, said the task force needs to complete its work, which can serve as a step towards creating other avenues for greater property protections.

“Ultimately, we are going to go to form-based codes,” Espino said. “I take offense [that some people are saying] that the Stockyards are in danger of being destroyed. All these people on the task force are good folks and are not going to let that happen, and neither is the council and neither is staff.

“The Stockyards is not in danger of anything.”

In July, the council approved zoning changes for the Stockyards that require development site plan reviews by city staff.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST