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Catalyst Urban Development is adding additional multifamily, mixed-use development near Burnett Lofts

December 31,2021

See full Dallas Business Journal article by Spencer Brewer here.

The Burnett Lofts is Catalyst Urban Development’s first Fort Worth project, but the inbound multifamily complex is just the beginning as the firm works to expand its foothold in the area. 

The 330-unit multifamily and mixed-use development located on the southern edge of downtown Fort Worth is currently under construction. The first phase of the development is open, while the following phases will roll out through next spring. Catalyst Urban Development plans to expand on this footprint with restaurants, additional multifamily, small office and hotel development in that area around Burnett Lofts. 

“When you have your core office infrastructure supported by a mixed-use zone that people live in, and they walk back and forth, that really strengthens the commercial core of a downtown,” said Paris Rutherford, principal of real estate investment and development company Catalyst Urban Development. 

The firm is atypical in that it offers urban planning and market consulting services for clients including cities and identifies development opportunities through those services. 

Rutherford said he became interested in the Lancaster Corridor when the firm was working for Downtown Fort Worth Inc. as a consultant for a strategic action plan for downtown. Multiple community stakeholders identified a need for more housing in downtown proper at the time, among other recommendations. 

The City of Fort Worth issued a request for proposals for a master development strategy for a group of properties along Lancaster Avenue. Rutherford said there was stiff competition, but eventually, the city selected Dallas-based Catalyst. The Burnett Lofts is the first phase of that effort.

The firm will move from west to east in its development. Overall, the entire area is projected to be a 10-year project, and there is the opportunity for additional investors. 

“When the city selected us for the master development strategy, I think they liked the concept that we had, that allowed for a range of different investors to be able to come in,” he said. 

The Burnett Lofts are inbound when demand for multifamily housing in Fort Worth has outstripped supply. Additionally, North Texas leads the nation in year-to-date multifamily investment. A residential tower is under construction in the downtown area, and three more residential towers are potentially in the works. 

Rutherford said physical and economic barriers exist between additional multifamily development in Fort Worth. Standard city blocks aren’t large enough to host multifamily development unless it’s a tower. Additionally, fragmented ownership of city blocks means it can be difficult to string blocks together for development. 

Going vertical and creating multifamily towers changes the economics of development, he said, bringing with it steeper rents or sale prices. 

“The rents that are required to justify that are going to be at the top of the demographics in the market,” Rutherford said. “The way we look at things, downtown Fort Worth is for everyone. It’s for the entire city.” 

Land located downtown is very expensive, he said, creating a high point of entry. 

“My hope is that when some of these early projects come through and we continue to have great success, that the market doesn’t price itself out,” he said. 

Should the three potential residential towers get financing and through the zoning process, Rutherford said he hopes they’re thoughtful about their design. 

“I wish the folks that own and are advancing those all the best. I hope they make a lot of money so that the market continues to evolve,” he said. “But outside of that, my hope is that the physical plans that they deliver are accretive to the larger downtown experience.” 

Location Mentioned: Burnett Lofts