Fort Worth

Fort Worth council approves consultants contract for work on Stockyards

Artist’s rendering of Fort Worth Heritage Development’s plans for the mule barns in the Historic Stockyards.
Artist’s rendering of Fort Worth Heritage Development’s plans for the mule barns in the Historic Stockyards. Courtesy

The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved spending $300,000 to hire Austin-based Code Studio as the consultant to prepare a form-based code for the Historic Stockyards.

The move goes a long way to fulfilling a promise the council made more than a year ago to protect the Stockyards in the wake of development, the members said.

“This council is hell bent on making sure that what goes in that Stockyards is what’s supposed to be in that Stockyards; it’s authentic, it fits, it matches what we all are thinking,” said Councilman Dennis Shingleton.

At an afternoon work session, Kerby Smith, senior vice president for development with Fort Worth Heritage Development, the partnership of Fort Worth’s Hickman family and Majestic Development, updated the council on its plans for the 70 acres it owns in the Stockyards on the near north side, primarily the mule and horse barns.

“This is a very important contract we’re awarding tonight,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “The process for form-based code will continue to ensure the authenticity, the heritage in the Stockyards.”

Fort Worth Heritage sought input and received the go-ahead from preservationists late last year regarding the work planned for the mule barns. The plans also were approved last fall by the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission. The council saw the plans for the first time Tuesday.

The developers will begin applying for building permits as soon as next week, Smith said. That work alone will cost about $45 million to fix extensive structural issues, among other things, to get them ready for lease and public use, he said.

“We’ve been hard at work on the project,” Smith said. “Like you, we recognize these important buildings as context and representative of the rich history of the Stockyards.”

Said Councilman Sal Espino, “I’m impressed with the work being done on the mule barns. The amount of time spent on that particular area shows the result. We want to make sure we keep the identity of the Stockyards.”

Code Studio last worked with Fort Worth to create a form-based code for the West Berry Street corridor. The company has worked with several large cities nationwide on form-based codes.

The consultant will interview stakeholders and council members before holding a three-day public charrette, or intensive planning session, May 23-25. It could take six months for the consultant to complete its work.

“I’m in a positive place about all of this right now,” said Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, who pushed for a form-based code for the Stockyards. “In conjunction with an historic district, this is going to provide an even playing field.”

Next week, the council is scheduled to vote on whether to designate 60 acres or 139 acres of the Stockyards as a historic district. The larger of the two proposed areas takes in the former Swift & Co. property east of Niles City Boulevard, as well as the former Armour & Co. site to the north.

Under the measures being put in place, project plans would require review by city staff or a city board to ensure that what is built is compatible with the area and meets certain guidelines and standards. The City Council will have final approval of the plans.