Downtown Fort Worth Inc. urges city to use ‘every’ power to revitalize T&P Warehouse
See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Jenny Rudolph here.
Downtown Fort Worth Inc. passed a formal resolution Thursday urging redevelopment of the shuttered historic T&P Warehouse on the south end of downtown.
The nonprofit organization, which focuses on downtown planning and project management, said it supports the city’s use of its “authority under state law to employ every regulatory, preservation or administrative tool available” to further the revitalization of the massive railroad warehouse.
The resolution comes less than a month after an engineers’ report of the warehouse at West Lancaster and Jennings avenues recommended more than $2 million in structural repairs. The building has sat vacant for several decades and has faced several code compliance problems and concerns of neglect.
“After years of negotiations, significant public incentives offered and lost, deadlines missed and well-qualified developers brought to the table but ultimately unable to forge a workable relationship, the latest city of Fort Worth sponsored report on the T&P Warehouse demonstrates the building’s continued deterioration,” Downtown Fort Worth Inc. said in its statement Thursday.
The organization says it wants to see the T&P Warehouse be redeveloped, sold to an experienced property developer or partnered with a qualified developer.
The T&P Warehouse is an important historic asset and its restoration and redevelopment are long overdue — so much so that the building’s continuing deterioration is cause for great concern,” Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., told the Star-Telegram. “The city is right to elevate the condition of the building as a civic priority, and we are supportive of anything the city can do to advance this building’s productive return.”
Fort Worth’s economic development office declined to comment on the resolution.
While the T&P Warehouse sits vacant, revitalization and new development is booming nearby in what’s known as the Downtown Lancaster Corridor.
And over the years, the T&P Warehouse owner has touted plans for redevelopment, but none have come to fruition.
Fort Worth city officials began conducting a structural inspection of the eight-story property in March. Engineers said the structural issues could have “damaging effects in the future” if left unattended and recommended repair within the next one to three years.
The city’s March inspection was the first of its kind after the T&P warehouse faced years of code compliance issues. Property owner Ola Assem purchased the building in 1998 through the company Cleopatra Investments. At 600 feet long by 100 feet wide, the building was once a railroad transportation warehouse.
To address Fort Worth’s population growth in the 1930s, T&P Railway Co. spent $13 million to develop a three-building complex that included an outbound freight terminal, a 13-story passenger terminal and the eight-story inbound freight terminal that is the vacant property today, according to the National Register of Historic Places.
When air travel became more popular in the 1950s, the buildings were shut down. Since then, the original passenger terminal at 221 W. Lancaster Ave. has been renovated into Texas and Pacific Lofts, a condominium complex with fitness and business centers and access to the Trinity Railway Express commuter train within the building.
In the surrounding south downtown area, Texas A&M just began development of the expected $320 million Fort Worth campus, a $217 million expansion of the Omni Fort Worth Hotel is slated to begin next spring, and the Fort Worth Convention Center is awaiting a major renovation.
The T&P Warehouse, purchased by Assem for $6.4 million, has appraised at $1.2 million.
Talks of converting the warehouse into apartments, a hotel, a restaurant or retail space have arisen multiple times over the years. Developers have expressed interest in working with the owner to revitalize the building. Leaders from Historic Fort Worth and Downtown Fort Worth Inc. have called for Assem to sell the property.
With penthouse structures on the roof and a basement, the building has now been on Historic Fort Worth’s endangered at least eight times. Over the years, the building has had a large tree growing on the roof, water standing in the basement and decorative elements falling to the ground, according to Historic Fort Worth.
The building was designated as one of the state’s Most Endangered Places in 2015 by Preservation Texas. City code inspectors nearly condemned the building for several of the same reasons back in 2017. The property once had a tax exemption, but the city also withdrew the agreement in 2019.
Location Mentioned: T&P Station Main Waiting Room