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Historic Public Market Building Has a New Purpose in Downtown

March 4,2022

See Fort Worth Magazine article by John Henry here.

There is finally a plan for the iconic, albeit lonely, Fort Worth Public Market Building that has sat vacant in the southwest corner of downtown for almost 20 years.

Emerging from the cobwebs and rising from the vacant lot behind the historic edifice will be The Harden at Public Market, an active senior living facility of 199 rooms in a five-story structure that will include a parking garage.

Inside the actual old Public Market will be amenities for residents, including a fitness center, shared working space, a lounge, as well as the leasing office for the property. Also, a coffee shop/café from a to-be-determined vendor will be located in about the same place as a bakery that set up shop there long ago, said Mark Dabney, an architect with BOKA Powell.

“Remarkably, the building is still in very good shape,” Dabney said in a presentation to the city of Fort Worth’s Downtown Design Review Board, which approved unanimously a “certificate of appropriateness” for the design plans and affiliated easement and right-of-way requests.

Ultimately, the City Council must move for final approval.

The city is dealing with different issues than in 1930.

Under terms of Harden’s agreement with the city, the city passed an ordinance regulating huckstering on streets and agreed not to permit construction of a similar market within a two-mile radius for a period of 10 years. The city also permitted the market to charge a maximum rent of 65 cents daily per stall. Thirty-five cents would be charged the first year, according to a report published at the time.

The name of the building is an homage to the original developer John J. Harden of Oklahoma City. He built the structure at 1400 Henderson St. in 1930. It was used by local farmers and vendors, as well as other businesses, but closed in 1941, a victim of the Great Depression.

The market was built to give farmers a central marketing place and to clear streets of parked produce wagons.

The property was listed as a Texas historic landmark in 1980 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Those designations will allow the developer, Wilks Development of Cisco, historic tax credits available to developers who renovate historic properties.

Wrapped around the back of the building will be a five-story senior-living building that backs up to Interstate 30. The property will be connected by landscaped green space, including a dog park and pickleball courts.