Other Voices

Will the Majestic plan enhance and improve the Stockyards?

Visitors cross East Exchange Avenue in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The City Council has approved the smaller of two historic district plans for the area.
Visitors cross East Exchange Avenue in the Fort Worth Stockyards. The City Council has approved the smaller of two historic district plans for the area.

The people of Fort Worth care deeply about the future of our historic Stockyards.

The City Council granted a huge financial incentive to the Majestic Realty-Hickman plans. Taxpayers have a right to ask if those plans will actually carry out the promise Majestic Realty made on June 2, 2014, that it would be “preserving and enhancing the Stockyards.”

Pam Minick’s April 27 opinion article (“If not Hickman plan for Fort Worth Stockyards, whose?”) asked the wrong question.

The question is not about a plan B, but rather whether plan A, the Majestic plan, will actually enhance and preserve the Stockyards.

Parking is crucial to enhancing the Stockyards.

In 2014, numerous people raised questions about how parking demands were going to be handled, including parking for the city-owned Cowtown Coliseum.

The official Majestic plan (submitted on Nov. 13, 2015, and deemed vested by the city) places trailer parking for the coliseum north of the four lanes of Stockyards Boulevard.

Over many years, parking for contestants and for livestock using the coliseum has been in an area that Majestic plans to convert to a “festival district.”

The Majestic plan for coliseum parking is neither safe nor functional.

How will the city handle the traffic demands of 1 million square feet of new development planned by Majestic? Is the city planning new road connections to Interstate 35W, and will it need to redesign local streets?

Where is the analysis of the traffic and transportation requirements for this development? Do the city’s thoroughfare plan and capital improvements program anticipate needed new infrastructure?

Over the past two years, much attention has been directed toward voluntary design guidelines for the Stockyards. The City Council has not allowed discussion of basic planning and infrastructure implications of Majestic’s plans.

This is a sad commentary on a city that deserves and needs strong planning procedures and practices.

The City Council has decided it will make all final decisions on preservation in the Stockyards. However, the council has made it clear that it does not value or want expert opinions concerning heritage preservation.

The council has rejected advice about the Stockyards from its official advisory commissions, the council member with professional planning background and from state and national experts and organizations with expertise in heritage development.

Will the City Council continue to reject expert preservation advice?

The next step in Stockyards redevelopment is writing the $300,000 form-based code, which begins this month and will result in recommendations in the fall.

City Council members have said that residents’ concerns about Stockyards redevelopment will be addressed through the form-based code.

The city has selected excellent consultants for this work. However, the first question should be this: “Given the vested development rights of Majestic Realty, will the form-based code have any real impact?”

And if the council does not accept and enforce the recommendations of these consultants, the form-based code will be nothing more than expensive window dressing.

Fort Worth residents do support plan A, but only if it actually preserves and enhances the historic Stockyards.

Douglas Harman, a Fort Worth tourism industry consultant and history buff, served as city manager from 1985 to 1989 and then led the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau for 17 years.