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Fort Worth approves ambitious economic development strategic plan

February 23,2022

Seel full Dallas Business Journal article by Spencer Brewer here.

The Fort Worth City Council has updated its economic development strategic plan, which could have a sweeping impact on the city’s economic landscape. 

According to documents detailing the plan that the council accepted on Tuesday, proposals include creating an investment framework, emphasizing equitable real estate development and investing in human capital. Specific measures in the plan include calls for increased funding to multiple economic development initiatives such as deal closing and targeted area development for areas like southeast Fort Worth and downtown. 

The plan proposes a new policy solution to increase funding. Multiple TIFs, or tax increment financing districts, are about to expire. As they expire, the proposal would have the city use that increment to lower property taxes and build the Economic Development Initiatives Fund, which would increase the amount of funding for economic development initiatives. 

According to the documents, roundtable participants identified southeast and east Fort Worth as the top areas in need of targeted economic development. The updated plan proposes a goal of $250 million capital investment in these areas by 2026. The plan calls for advancing catalyst developments in these areas, anchored by major employers, mixed-use developments and neighborhood amenities.

The approach outlined in the updated plan recommends advancing public-private development projects at the Evans & Rosedale urban village and surrounding areas. It also calls for advancing the Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative to create new mixed-income residential units and neighborhood amenities.

Roundtable participants also identified downtown as an area in need of targeted economic development. The plan calls for an additional 2,000 new hotel rooms within a 10-minute walk of the Fort Worth Convention Center by 2026. It also recommends a targeted expansion of 250,000 square feet of new meeting and exhibit space, roughly doubling the capacity of the Convention Center to 500,000 square feet of functional space. 

The plan proposes launching public-private partnerships to develop at least 1 million square feet of class A office space in and around downtown Fort Worth by 2026. Incentives could be offered for the construction of new downtown commercial office space, dependent on a threshold of contiguous available downtown office inventory. 

The updated plan recommends placing a new emphasis on the Panther Island project. According to the documents, the updated plan calls for the city to work with the local, regional and national real estate community to position Panther Island as a premier investment opportunity for class A office development and mixed-use development projects.

Other proposals outlined in the documents include focusing city resources on the long-term redevelopment of Butler Place to accommodate a high-density, mixed-use, residential high rise and class A office projects as well as promoting major mixed-use projects in the West 7th Cultural District. 

Outside of the urban core, proposals include creating a master development plan for west Fort Worth, centered around Walsh Ranch, to increase industrial and residential development. The goals outlined in the updated plan are developing 10 million square feet of new industrial space by 2026 and developing 5,000 new housing units in the same time period. The plan recommends incentivizing the development of diverse, attainable housing stock.