First look at new TEX Rail cars being unloaded in Grapevine
Grapevine leaders have been waiting more than a decade for passenger rail service to come to town, all the while dreaming of building a train station unlike any other in North Texas.
Now, with TEX Rail scheduled to begin rolling between Fort Worth and DFW Airport late next year, the city has unveiled its vision — and it’s way more than a covered platform and parking.
Plans call for a five-story train station that recalls railroad stations of old, complete with a restaurant, a grand hall filled with retailers, and upper floors with offices, meeting space and a ballroom.
The exterior will be dominated by a 150-foot clock tower and observation deck and a public plaza with a fountain, outdoor stage and public art, making the station a focal point for Grapevine’s festivals and events.
Next door, there will be a 121-room boutique hotel that will bring the city’s hotel inventory to more than 6,000 rooms. And there will be a 5-story parking garage with valet service and tenant space for retail.
“It’s iconic and it’s also something that’s going to excite the community,” said Bruno Rumbelow, Grapevine’s city manager. “It’s going to be a first-class development.”
This week, the City Council approved a zoning change for the 4.5-acre site wedged between Main Street, Dallas Street and the railroad tracks.
Regarding the total cost for the station, Mona Burk, Grapevine marketing and communications manager said in an email that the city is still refining the numbers.
“We will be presenting the budget to Council for action in November,” Burk said. “ Upon Council approval, construction would begin shortly on the parking garage, followed by the station and hotel.”
Burk said construction is scheduled to start by the end of 2017.
TEX Rail is scheduled to launch service in December 2018. The 52-minute journey between downtown Fort Worth and DFW’s Terminal B will have nine stops, including the one in downtown Grapevine. The first Tex Rail cars, shown to the public last week at a transit expo in Atlanta, arrived in Grapevine on Wednesday.
For Grapevine, only the parking garage and train platform will be ready in time for the start of train service; the station and hotel are scheduled to open in June 2019.
Councilwoman Duff O’Dell called it a legacy project.
“This has been a long project but it will be a game changer for Grapevine,” she said. “We’ve really put a lot of work into it.”
Grapevine voters approved a measure in 2006 that contributes about 75 percent of the city’s half-cent sales tax to TEX Rail.
Paul W. McCallum, executive director of the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the CVB will contribute $12 million toward the project.
Other funding will come from TEX Rail and the city’s tax increment finance district at Grapevine Mills Mall, Rumbelow said. The city will work out the funding details at the Nov. 7 council meeting.
Grapevine station the ‘crescendo’
Grapevine’s Main Street is already bustling with activity on any given day, with parallel parking spaces jammed with cars and sidewalks filled with shoppers.
Having a nearby train line that carries 8,000 passengers a day will only add to the energy and pride of downtown, Mayor William D. Tate said.
The design for the station drew inspiration from a Civil War-era station in Harrisburg, Pa., said Craig Melde, senior principal with Architexas.
He showed Grapevine leaders about 30 different stations from across the country before deciding on that one.
Melde has played a role in Grapevine’s historic revitalization, having also designed City Hall and the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“This is the crescendo for all their efforts in the past,” Melde said. “It’s remarkable what they’ve done here. This is a significant project for us and we want to continue reinforcing this downtown core.”
He called it a pure transit-oriented development that doesn’t exist anywhere else in North Texas. Mockingbird Station along the Dallas Area Rapid Transit line in Dallas would be the closest comparison.
“They don’t have a 10-minute link to the airport like we do here,” Melde said.
A two-story grand hall will be Grapevine’s “Grand Central Station” with shops selling ice cream, coffee and prepared foods, Melde said. There will also be a market hall selling goods on the first floor and a sit-down restaurant on the south end.
Upper floors will have rooms for meetings, convention space and a ballroom for weddings and special events. The ballroom will be operated by the adjacent hotel.
Grapevine’s station will be a hub of multiple forms of transportation with Grapevine’s Visitors Shuttle, which visits all the major attractions in town, and the Cotton Belt linear trail converging there.
A wine theme
The new six-story hotel will be the first within walking distance of the downtown shops. It will be operated by Coury Hospitality under the Autograph Collection by Marriott brand. True to the city’s heritage, they’ll call it Hotel Vin.
“It’s vintage. It’s wine in French. It’s Grapevine,” said Mark Brooks, a principal with Brooks Hospitality Consulting. “Every boutique hotel in the Autograph collection has a story.”
Originally, the station wasn’t going to have an adjacent hotel. But McCallum said the hotel is now an important component of the project.
“That’s what we’re about, filling hotel space and they have some nice meeting space,” McCallum said. “Our responsibility is to continue to attract visitors to Grapevine and overnight guests.”
The parking dilemma
The parking garage will have 552 spaces, more than enough to handle daily demand from train commuters and hotel users, Melde said.
But it will not be a remote parking lot for airport travelers, Tate said.
“That’s not why we’re building the garage, that’s for sure,” Tate said. “They need to go to DFW Airport and park.”
Details on the parking fee structure are still being worked out, Melde said, but they definitely want to discourage people from parking in the lot while they go on a two-week European vacation.
There will also be a designated area for rideshares, taxis and valet.
The first floor of the garage will have retail shops fronting Dallas Street, adding to the vibrancy of the center, Melde said.
Construction on the parking garage is being accelerated so it can be ready for the start of TEX Rail, Melde said.