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Fort Worth downtown library development could include more than one 20-story tower

June 2,2023

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Jenny Rudolph here.

The Fort Worth Central Library building in downtown has officially sold, and plans for its development could involve more than one 20-story towers.

Dart Interests bought the 2.4-acre property at 500 W. Third St. for $18 million after months spent finalizing the agreement.

Back in March, the developer said it was too early to say what it might do with the block-size property, but preliminary discussions have included one or two high-rise towers.

A pre-development concept rendering of the property shows modern towers at the site, which is a prime downtown location three blocks from Sundance Square Plaza.

The city of Fort Worth decided to sell the library to Dart Interests in December, months after the library said it would downsize the branch because it no longer needed that much space. The library expects to leave the 234,000-square-foot building and relocate to a new space within a year.

The city brought on commercial real estate company JLL to oversee the property’s sale and development. Todd Burnette, managing director of JLL Fort Worth, said in a release the deal benefits all parties involved.

“The development of the property will not only create new jobs within the towers and during construction, but it will also help generate additional tax revenues for the city,” Burnette said.

David Berzina, vice president of JLL Fort Worth, said the sale sets a new benchmark for commercial land sales in downtown Fort Worth and reflects the immense value and potential of the Fort Worth market.

“The development will potentially include 20-story buildings, adding a signature appeal to Fort Worth’s skyline and ushering in fresh opportunities and growth for the area,” Berzina said in a release.

“We are big fans of Fort Worth and downtown Fort Worth, especially,” said Dart Interests president Christopher Kelsey in March. “We think it is a great place both to live and work, so our overall goal is to enhance the existing vitality of the downtown.”

Kelsey said the company has yet to determine the best possible uses for the property and design for the project.

“While we generally have a good idea of the choices that we need to make, we have a lot of research to do, including talking to a lot of people in Fort Worth, to decide the final direction for the future property,” said Kelsey. “We will then work with architects and engineers to design the project. Assuming the market timing is good when we get through that process, then construction will begin.”

Fort Worth’s economic development director, Robert Sturns, said the city is working closely with Dart Interests and looks forward to seeing new investment in Fort Worth’s central business district.

“The site at 500 W. 3rd St. presents an outstanding opportunity for redevelopment – not only due its size and location, but because it builds on the momentum created by other development projects happening in and around downtown right now,” Sturns said.

The developer previously said a project featuring two towers makes the most sense for the site, the Dallas Business Journal reported, but Kelsey declined to comment further.

“The reality is that we are simply not that far along in the design,” Kelsey said. “The little bit of design work that has been completed simply gave us the confidence that the project made sense.”

The property is zoned for both multi-family and commercial uses under Fort Worth’s Downtown Design Review Board purview. Built in 1980, the current structure is not considered a historic landmark.

Dart Interests is based in Dallas and has projects in 12 markets across seven states, including New York City, Washington D.C. and Houston. This is the real estate development and investment firm’s first project in North Texas.

The firm is currently in the works on a new $700 million Florida resort next to Orlando’s Walt Disney World.