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Downtown Fort Worth Inc. focuses on wins for city, steers clear of ‘noise and nonsense’

April 6,2022

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Harrison Mantas here.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s 40th annual meeting Wednesday celebrated the growing residential, hospitality and educational development in the city’s urban core.

The downtown business advocacy and planning nonprofit organization highlighted the past decade of successes while laying out the opportunities for the next 10 years.

Fort Worth exceeded its 10% affordable housing goal, with 15% of all units built downtown being classified as affordable.

Developers have built 2,818 housing units since 2013 with plans for an additional 2,875 units, according to Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s 2021 annual report.

The report also highlighted the addition of educational opportunities. It pointed to the academic success of the Fort Worth school district’s I.M. Terrell and Young Women’s Leadership academies, along with the November announcement of Texas A&M’s new downtown campus.

"There are a lot of amazing things happening downtown, but sometimes they get drowned out by a lot of noise and nonsense,” said Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., seeming to reference recent disagreements between his organization and the owners of Sundance Square.

The two organizations have sparred over the planting of downtown trees and the representation of local artists at the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival.

“We’re going to set that noise and nonsense aside,” Taft told the crowd at the Convention Center. “Instead, we’re going to dial in on the great things that are happening.”

Taft pointed to nearly $1.5 billion in investment either spent or planned for downtown. He also pointed to the expansion of transportation options such as bike sharing, the TEXRail station and the potential development of high speed rail.

“Great downtowns don’t happen by accident. This is the result of careful planning,” said keynote speaker Scott Page, CEO of Philadelphia-based design and planning firm Interface Studio.

Successful downtowns have places to play, places to sit and places to grow, Page said. He showed examples of an urban farm in downtown Detroit and an alley in Philadelphia revamped into a plaza.

Interface Studio is working with Downtown Fort Worth Inc. on its Plan 2033, a road map to guide development for the next decade. The firm also is working with the city on a similar plan for the Las Vegas Trail area.

The firm is surveying residents and downtown stakeholders about what they want to see downtown. Interface will use those results to try to find what Page called “threads of connection,” where people agree on what they want for the city’s urban core.

If you do the engagement well and reach out to a lot of people, Page said, by the time the draft comes out, people will agree on about 90% of it, Page said.

Locations Mentioned: Fort Worth Convention Center, Texas A&M University School of Law