Fort Worth

A hotel with only 19 rooms? Fort Worth developer hopes to compete with Airbnb

This boutique hotel is planned in Arlington Heights across the street from Dickies Arena.
This boutique hotel is planned in Arlington Heights across the street from Dickies Arena. Bennett Benner Partners

Dickies Arena won’t host major events for almost another year, but the event center is already spurring hotel speculation in at least one nearby Fort Worth neighborhood.

A 19-room boutique hotel aimed at attracting younger visitors and competing with Airbnb is in the works near Montgomery Street and Byers Avenue, almost directly across from Dickies Arena. Pending zoning approval in early January, construction could start this summer.

Jonathan Morris, owner of Fort Worth Barber Shop and The Lathery, purchased the former dry ice warehouse at 3621 Byers early this year with his wife, Kathrine, and business partner Allen Mederos.

“We want to bring folks into Fort Worth and show them the city the way we see it,” Morris said.

The group hopes to attract travelers who don’t stay at typical hotels, he said. Creative types, millennial travelers and anyone who might choose an Airbnb room for its price and city neighborhood feel are among the target demographic, but Morris said the hotel won’t be too high-end that it becomes unaffordable.

The warehouse sits back from the street several yards between Fort Works Art and Margaret Street. Morris said he hopes to keep elements of the warehouse in place, but add to the aesthetic of the neighborhood.

Architect Michael Bennett of Fort Worth’s Bennett Benner Partners has been tapped to design the hotel. Bennett said the area is zoned for industrial and the existing building doesn’t blend with the surrounding Arlington Heights neighborhood.

Artist renderings show the property, which rises above street level, graded down to be inline with Byers Avenue’s slope. With the elevation change, the building won’t rise above homes farther down the street, even though it has three stories, Bennett said. The structure will stand about 36 feet above the street and will fit nearly on the footprint of the vacant dry ice building.

A small parking lot and green space will buffer homes to the west from the hotel. Instead of a large restaurant or meeting space, the hotel will have a 600-square-foot lobby bar.

“It’s really a different sort of hotel,” Bennett said.

The Morrises and Mederos live in Arlington Heights and keeping the plan compatible with the neighborhood has been key, Morris said.

“We’re also neighbors,” Morris said. “We want to bring value to the neighborhood.”

The countdown is on at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena with less than a year before Texas singer George Strait headlines a concert Nov. 22, 2019.

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.

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