Fort Worth Stockyards to undergo $175 million redevelopment

By Joey McReynolds

According to the Fort Worth Texas Government, 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 Fort Worth Texas Government, 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, also with plans for historically themed hotels and a select group of corporate headquarters.
Part of the plan includes the preservation and renovation of the Mule Barns to attract new retail and restaurants that fit with the Stockyards’ cowboy traditions.
Council member Sal Espino said that he feels strongly that the new development can’t come at the expense of losing what’s special about the Stockyards.
The City Council has set up a task force of 15 members of civic and city leaders that have been meeting for several months with a consultant to establish design guidelines for the Historic Stockyards.
Those meetings have often been contentious when the issue of historic preservation is brought up. The task force is scheduled to complete its work by the end of August, with the developer expected to share its concept plan with the task force at the July 29 meeting.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced that the Fort Worth Stockyards has made it on their most endangered historic places list that is updated every year because of the new development plan.
“San Antonio has the Alamo, Houston has the Astrodome, and Fort Worth has its stockyards,” Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said.
“Just as cities throughout Texas and America have historic places that help define their identity, Fort Worth’s Stockyards represents a culture and history ingrained in the city’s character, and the cattle and livestock business that revolutionized American industry and appetites,” said Meeks. “As insensitive development threatens this historically significant place, we believe the local preservation community should be part of the city’s dialogue about the district’s future.”
According to Preservation Nation, since 1988, the National Trust has used its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures.  The list, which has identified more than 250 sites to date, has been so successful in galvanizing preservation efforts that only a handful of sites have been lost.
The Stockyards is listed as a National Register Historic District, but less than 10 percent of the buildings are protected from demolition through local designation according to
Historic Fort Worth Inc. is a citywide non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving Fort Worth’s unique historical identity through stewardship, education and leadership, according to
Kate Stephens, Preservation Resource Center Manager, said that they focus on heritage in Fort Worth in general.
“There has been a refusal to designate any of the buildings in the Stockyards historic,” Stephens said. “That designation prevents anyone from demolishing them or from changing them so much that you can’t really see what the original historic building was anymore.”
“That’s really scary to us because it’s so vital to what Fort Worth is,” Stephens said.  “We just want to make sure that the development that happens is smart development and makes the best use of the assets that are out there.”