Fort Worth

Cramped, cluttered and green goo. Is it time for a new Fort Worth City Hall?

Fort Worth city hall

"Busting at the seams" says mayor Price, desiring new city hall.
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"Busting at the seams" says mayor Price, desiring new city hall.

Four years ago, the U.S. Postal Service backed away from its deal to sell the city of Fort Worth its historic downtown post office on Lancaster Avenue, but Mayor Betsy Price says she'd like to take another shot at the property.

Admittedly, that hope is pie-in-the-sky, but getting Fort Worth a new City Hall is not.

"We're busting at the seams," Price said. "We will look at a new city hall at some point. If we can get the post office to come back around, we may look at it."

In the meantime, Price has asked city staff for an update on the condition of its building at 200 Texas St. Her request came after she continually walked by a large concrete planter outside the building several weeks ago that had "6 inches of green goo" from water pooling in it.

The building is showing wear and tear and is probably not as welcoming to visitors as it should be, she said.

Carpeting and flooring are mismatched, employees have put foil in windows, and it's just generally cluttered. Employees are crowded, and it's only going to get worse as the city continues to grow. On top of that, in the 2016 charter election, voters approved adding two council districts, which won't happen until after the 2020 Census, but it will mean more offices.

“If you walk through our City Hall and if you talk to our staff, there’s a lot of lack of pride in our facility,” Price said. "The professional staff need an environment that is welcoming and inviting, and for the public to be here. We can do better.”

Money for a new city hall, though, would likely have to come in a bond election, and that takes the vote of taxpayers. The city is looking at a bond election in 2022.

It's not that the city hasn't kept up with some maintenance needs. Just since 2016, $528,516 has been spent on such things as bathroom remodeling and replacing chairs in the council chambers.

Fort Worth paid the post office $56,201 in 1944 to buy the property it sits on. In 1962, the city demolished a post office to build, spending $5.4 million on the current structure, which opened in 1971, city records show.

In 1982, $1.7 million was spent to complete the third floor that was shelled in during initial construction. That expansion added many offices, including for the mayor and city council members. In 1987, the city spent $2 million to fix structural weaknesses in the roof.

Although the city is exempt from property taxes, the Tarrant Appraisal District values the building and land at $13.5 million.

Price said the building would always be used for city offices, even if City Hall were to be located elsewhere.

In 2014, the council was ready to approve a $7 million offer for the historic post office, which was one of 3,700 of its facilities being studied for closure because of falling revenue. Fort Worth has had its eye on the building since 2004.

Performers, speakers, and food trucks celebrate National Hispanic Heritage month in front of Fort Worth's City Hall.

This article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Sandra Baker: 817-390-7727, @SandraBakerFWST
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