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New development coming to Stockyards, but not without protecting our western heritage

Posted June 12, 2014

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Over the last several days, we heard a lot of comments—both for and against—about the redevelopment plans of a major property owner in the Stockyards.

Although we understand what this project will bring to the Stockyards, it’s yet to be determined what it will look like. What is certain, however, is that the agreement marks the beginning of a significant reinvestment plan to improve and expand the offerings in the Stockyards.

Before I share what I know about the redevelopment plan, let me first say a little about the private partners involved—The Hickman Family and Majestic Realty.

As property owners, The Hickmans have spent decades preserving the authenticity of the Stockyards. They are proud owners of the Exchange Building and co-owners of the Stockyards Station. They brought the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame to the area and remain partners in Billy Bob’s Texas. Holt Hickman and his family have spent a lot of years and a lot of money preserving and promoting the Stockyards brand as unique and authentic.

Majestic Realty happens to be one of the largest and most successful real estate development companies in the country. Majestic is led by Ed Roski, whom I had the opportunity to meet several weeks ago. I shared with him our concern and interest in protecting the authentic western culture in the Stockyards. He agreed, and made it clear that his business model will be founded on supporting and enhancing the western character that makes this area so special.

So, what does Hickman/Majestic plan to do?

Part of their plan includes the preservation and renovation of the Mule Barns to attract new retail and restaurants that fit with the Stockyards’ cowboy traditions. Also, there will be improvements to Stockyards Station. What’s more, there are discussions about re-establishing on-site livestock auctions. That’s real western.

Along with the renovation of existing attractions, the plan includes new developments on much of the vacant property within the Stockyards area. They are looking at new residential opportunities, unique destination retail, craft breweries, farmers markets and signature restaurants. There are also plans for historically-themed hotels and a select group of corporate headquarters to match the established western flavor.

The project includes roughly 1 million square feet in new development with a total investment of $175 million. The mixed-use project will involve three phases and include property on the north and south sides of Exchange Avenue between Northeast 23rd and Northeast 28th streets, and the former Swift-Armour packing plant area east of Packers Avenue.

According to the agreement approved by the City Council, if the Hickman/Majestic partnership meets the criteria on investments and construction spending, the city will grant an incentive of up to $26 million over 25 years.

This reinvestment in the Stockyards is a remarkable opportunity—but I, Councilmember Sal Espino and the rest of the City Council feel strongly that new development cannot come at the expense of losing what’s special about our Stockyards. Based on the information I’ve received, I trust the Hickman/Majestic partnership will be good for the Stockyards.

Nevertheless, because the design, look and feel of the new development has yet to be determined, the City Council approved the financial agreement with a few caveats to better define what type of new development would be appropriate in the Stockyards. Those stipulations include:

  • The Stockyards stakeholders must begin the public process of outlining new form-based codes to set the standard for development projects in the Stockyards. This process, which will include public input opportunities, could take several months. In the end, it will set the standard for what we expect when it comes to development and redevelopment in the Stockyards.
  • Until the form-based codes are adopted, we charged the City Manager to move swiftly to rezone the Stockyards area, limiting the intensity of any future development. We expect this rezoning case to come to the City Council for approval in July.
  • Between now and when the rezoning is approved, city staff was instructed to not accept any permits or plats that would be inconsistent with the proposed rezoning.
  • Finally, the City Manager will initiate a public process to put the pieces together to create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to help pump more tax revenue into the entire historic Stockyards area. Designing this TIF district will be a very open and public process involving all interested stakeholders.

We thank all of the citizens who spoke up about their concerns for our treasured Stockyards. Your input mattered. It proved to be extremely valuable as we worked to strike a balance to support new development while respecting the western character of the Stockyards.

Successful communities share a common story. Citizens who live in successful communities have a special pride founded in culture and tradition. Much of Fort Worth’s story is told in the Stockyards. Although change is in the air, we trust the people and process involved in this new endeavor to produce nothing but positive results for the Stockyards and for our city.

You can also trust that your City Council will continue to watch the redevelopment of one of our city’s most treasured assets very closely.

Betsy Price, a Fort Worth native, was elected as the 44th mayor of the City of Fort Worth June 18, 2011. A successful business owner and lifelong public servant, Price uses this forum to ensure transparency and inform residents of issues and programs that affect their daily lives.

About Mayor Price

Betsy Price, a Fort Worth native, was elected as the 44th mayor of the City of Fort Worth June 18, 2011. Read the mayor's bio »

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