Fort Worth

Landmarks Commission delays vote on proposed Stockyards historic district

Historic buildings in the Fort Worth Stockyards.
Historic buildings in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Star-Telegram archives

The city’s Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission Monday postponed voting on proposed boundaries for a historic district in the Fort Worth Stockyards and asked staff for more information.

The request came after hearing from a representative of Historic Fort Worth and several other people who asked that the commission expand the boundary well beyond what the City Council asked for in November.

Historic Fort Worth’s request is based on a five-month survey of the Stockyards commissioned by the group that was completed in November.

Commission members agreed to schedule a special meeting in the next couple of weeks.

In November, preservationists told the City Council they thought what was being proposed was too small. Some property owners said the proposed boundary was too large.

The proposed boundaries essentially include what the public perceives as the Stockyards: the historic buildings on Exchange Avenue east and west of North Main Street, and areas north of Stockyards Boulevard and near Northeast 23rd Street on the south. The east boundary would stop at Niles City Boulevard and would not include the former Swift & Co. property, commonly called “the ruins.”

Historic Fort Worth is asking the Landmarks Commission to consider including the ruins area, all of the property on the north side of Northeast 23rd from Main Street to Niles City Boulevard, and to include several blocks on the west side of North Main Street near 27th Street.

Gannon Gries, landmarks commission chair, said he wanted time to review the Historic Fort Worth report.

“The Stockyards is not just one area, but is multiple areas adjacent to each other,” Gries said. “It’s very important to understand what the context is for each of those areas. Preserving those is our responsibility. Personally, I think we need more time to understand all these issues.”

Other commissioners agreed.

“Because this is so sensitive to the city and so significant to our future, I think we need a little more time before we make a decision,” Commissioner Randle Howard said. “I want us to be real careful how we do this.”

A couple of property owners asked that the proposed Historic District boundary be reduced and that individual property owners be allowed to decide whether they want to be included in the historic district.

Brad Hickman, an owner of Billy Bob’s Texas and a partner in the proposed $175 million development in the Stockyards, asked that the Billy Bob’s property be excluded. He said he and his partners have been contemplating an expansion so they can continue to compete in a growing and competitive entertainment industry, but they fear they won’t be able to do so in a historic district.

“I would hate for this historical overlay to be the thing that would put Billy Bob’s out of business,” Hickman said.

Commissioner Edith Jones said she was concerned about the number of demolition permits issued to Heritage Development, a partnership of California-based Majestic Realty and Fort Worth's Hickman family. Those were issued in November, just before the council voted to pursue the historic district.

“I’m grateful Historic Fort Worth said, ‘Hey, it’s a good start, could we talk about some additional things?’ ” Jones said of the proposed district.