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Canal for Panther Island Pavilion could begin construction in 2024

July 19,2023

See full WFAA News article by Matt Houston here.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could begin digging the bypass channel that will form Panther Island as early as the end of 2024, Tarrant Regional Water District general manager Dan Buhman said this week.

The corps aims to prevent flooding in Fort Worth by re-routing the Trinity River north of downtown. The new canal will cut across an existing peninsula, forming an island city leaders aim to develop into a destination district similar to San Antonio's River Walk.

In one of two victories for the project this week, the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) signaled its intention to spend $116 million on the flood control plan in 2024.

"What we're doing is making way for the corps to be able to start construction," TRWD spokesperson Matt Oliver said Wednesday. "It's an incredibly exciting time."

The TRWD would spend $88 million reimbursing the city of Fort Worth for utility relocation work that is already underway. Crews must move sewerage, water and other infrastructure out of the bypass channel's path.

The district will also pay to acquire property, demolish nearby structures, and complete environmental cleanup.

"In the channel, we're almost finished with that," Oliver said. "Everybody's moving full-speed ahead."

The TRWD spent nearly $17 million on the plan in 2023, meaning this year's investment is worth almost $100 million more. The district will likely have to issue bonds previously-approved by voters to pay for the increase.

Buhman detailed the budget draft to TRWD board members on the same day an Austin commercial developer announced it's purchased nearly 30 acres of land on the peninsula. The group is known for its mixed-use developments, which generally include space for retail and housing.

"It kind of validates why we chose this spot and how amped we are for the future of the Panther Island district," said Ryan McWhorter, who founded nearby Panther Island Brewing.

The beermaker opened his taproom at the intersection of North Main and 4th Street in 2014. Business will boom as more stores and homes go up on the island, McWhorter said.

"Once we see them breaking ground on that (flood control project) and making this an actual island, it'll be very exciting," he said. "We've been waiting for this moment for nine years. It sounds like it's finally here."

Location Mentioned: Panther Island Pavilion