One thing is for certain about downtown Fort Worth — there’s never a lack of developer interest.
The current hot spot is a small quadrant west of Henderson Street between the Trinity River and Belknap Street. Lots are vacant and for-sale signs are up.
Developers considered projects there more than a dozen years ago, but they didn’t happen because of poor market conditions. Now that the $900 million Trinity River Vision economic development and flood control project is well under way, developers are coming back.
Kyle Poulson, a partner with Transwestern commercial brokerage in Fort Worth, is also a partner in the investment group, Colonial Development Partners, which earlier this year amassed lots on Henderson Street across from Tarrant County College’s downtown campus.
They bought it without any plans, thinking it was simply a nice piece of land, Poulson said.
“We tried to buy more, but the owners didn’t want to sell,” Poulson said.
Within months, Poulson said four buyers lined up to buy the land from them, including QuikTrip. But, developing a gas station and convenience store would have gone the against the wishes of city and downtown leaders who want to see more apartments and condominiums to meet demand.
The property is now under contract to Houston-based Zamco Properties, which plans a 24-story condo building called The Worth. The deal should close early next year and the developer promises construction will start soon on the $100 million project.
The project will be adjacent to the 11-unit town home project being completed by Houston-based InTown Homes.
Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., the nonprofit advocacy organization, said momentum is gaining on the inner west section of downtown and that The Worth and InTown Homes won’t be the only two projects. He said a third high-rise project there is a possibility and hinted at an announcement next year.
“There are a few things coming together that will make that area special,” Taft said. “The level of interest in that part of downtown is at a 15-year high. All areas of of downtown are at record level interest.”
More than a decade ago, Fort Worth architect Ken Schaumburg built the Versailles, a seven-unit, three-story condo building along the river bluff. One unit is listed for sale at $699,900. When they were built, asking prices ranged from $435,000 to $720,000.
A twin building was planned adjacent to the Versailles to the south. The Parthenon Greek restaurant was torn down to make room for it.
But in 2010, in the grips of the Great Recession, Borodino Land, the investor group that was to build the project, deeded the property, 401 N. Henderson St., back to its lender, Southwest Securities Bank. The bank wanted to restructure the loan, rendering the project economically impossible.
More than a dozen years ago, Schaumburg planned a $48 million, 23-story condo tower called The Ruins, at Peach Street and Lexington Avenue. The project never materialized.
The Worth tower will face Henderson Street and be bounded by West Bluff Street, Mills Street and West Peach Street. It will have 115 homes with views of downtown, the Cultural District, as well as the Trinity River and Panther Island.
Condominiums and town homes haven’t been built downtown since 2009, according to Downtown Fort Worth Inc. The median sales price of those downtown units was $262,750 in 2016.
Al Coker, a Dallas-based residential real estate marketer handling The Worth, said the building will become an iconic downtown address. Baby boomers and empty nesters are looking for a lock-and-leave lifestyle The Worth will provide, he said.
Zamco Properties will close on land early next year and start construction soon after, Coker said.
“Our plan is to move at a lightning pace,” Coker said. “Downtown Fort Worth has got it going on. All the fundamentals are in place. There’s a lot of deals in the works. Not all of them will happen, but I have a funny feeling many of them will.”
When a downtown condo hits the block, it typically sells in less than 60 days, Taft said.
“There’s been very little new condo development in the last five years,” Taft said. “Fort Worth is an untapped market. My prediction is that the level of multifamily and hotel development will continue to accelerate.”