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CVS planning a $1 million remodel of Ojos Locos space in downtown Fort Worth

January 30,2017

Reposted from Star-Telegram

By Sandra Baker and Rick Press

A CVS pharmacy appears headed for a prime downtown spot at the northeast corner of Fifth and Houston streets.

There’s just one problem: Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, the current tenant, has no plans of moving.

Fossil Creek Land Partners, headed by managing partner Farukh Aslam, which owns the building at 515 Houston St., is listed on a permit filed by CVS’s architecture firm for a required state review of plans to build the CVS. Construction of the store, estimated at a little more than $1 million, is expected to begin March 1 and be completed by July, according to the filing.

But the owner of Ojos Locos, a chain of Latin-themed sports bars that features scantily-clad waitresses and whose name translates to Crazy Eyes in Spanish, said Friday the cantina has no immediate plans of leaving its downtown location.

“Over the past six years, the downtown Fort Worth location of Ojos Locos has been a great one for us,” Rich Hicks, CEO of Reach Restaurant Group, said in a statement. “We have no plans to leave at this time.”

Ojos Locos, which has eight Texas locations, opened in downtown Fort Worth in January 2011, right before the Super Bowl was played in Arlington.

“Our lease is effective through 2025,” Hicks said. “Until we hear from our landlord further, we will continue business as usual.”

Asked about Ojos Locos on Friday, Aslam said only: “They are in their space, and they have a lease.”

He declined to comment further.

The state review filing was made by Hurst-based Genesis Design Group. The firm has designed 15 new stores for CVS and completed 15 conversions of Eckerd locations when the retailer acquired the drug store chain, according to its website.

The group on Jan. 5 also filed for a commercial remodeling permit with the city, but that hasn’t been issued, according to the city’s website. The building is known as the STS Tower.

Aslam and his Fossil Creek Land Partners also owns the adjacent historic Sinclair Building and have plans to convert the 16-story art deco office building into a 165-room Autograph hotel, with a basement restaurant and rooftop bar. In recent months, the building’s street level tenants moved out.

Aslam told city officials two years ago the hotel would be completed in 2016. Some floors of the STS Tower are expected to be converted to back-of-house space for the hotel, Aslam said then.

Aslam also received city approval to restore the STS Tower to its original appearance when it was built in 1925 for the Sanger Brothers department store. Aslam bought the building in 1998 and converted it into a telecom hotel, but maintained the street-level restaurant space.

Earlier this week, several postings on a local architecture forum started talk of CVS coming to downtown Fort Worth. Ojos Locos’ owner acknolwedged the chatter, but reiterated: “Yes, we have heard the rumors, however, we have no plans to leave our downtown Fort Worth location at this time.”

Prior to Ojos Locos, the 515 Houston Street space briefly housed a Dixie House Cafe, and before that Bennigan’s.

In 2015, the Downtown Tax Increment Finance Board approved giving $5.3 million to Aslam to support redevelopment of the properties. The grant has certain requirements tied to receiving it, including employment and investment figures.

Of the grant, $3.4 million is for the Sinclair Building, to cover the cost of such things as asbestos removal, public right-of-way improvements, and exterior historic renovations. The developer must spend at least $32 million for improvements on the building.

The remaining $1.5 million will pay for improvements to the STS Tower.

Location Mentioned: CVS Pharmacy