John Hickenlooper at Downtown Fort Worth Inc
Democratic presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper came to Fort Worth to preach a message of regional growth.
Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver and the former governor of Colorado, was the keynote speaker for Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s annual meeting Tuesday afternoon at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel. In his speech, he drew on his time as a small business owner — in 1988 he opened a brewpub in downtown Denver at a time when the downtown district had been crumbling.
“That first lease was $1 per square foot for a year,” Hickenlooper said. “That’s a reflection of just how bad the real estate market was there.”
Over the years, as the business for his brewpub grew, he and other downtown businesses started banding together to promote each other and draw people to come downtown. When he was elected mayor, he went to the mayors of all 34 suburbs of Denver and together they uniformly passed a sales tax increase to support the construction of FasTracks, a public transportation system of commuter rails and bus services.
That was the crux, he said, of growth. Regional growth is always going to be the story of growth, he said, and approaching economic development from a regional perspective is what drives results.
The rest of the Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s annual meeting was highlighting the developments of downtown and central Fort Worth. President Andy Taft listed the major residential and hotel developments in the area, projecting that by 2020, residential growth in downtown will have risen by 70 percent since 1980. Hotel growth is expected to increase by 59 percent.
“Cities east of the airport have had their day in the sun,” Taft said, “and Fort Worth is about to cast a long shadow.”