Record $2.5 billion in development planned in downtown Fort Worth
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With an estimated $2.5 billion in the development pipeline, downtown Fort Worth is set to begin a new period of construction that will reshape the area for the next decade.
That represents a historic record for downtown development, according to Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., the advocacy organization for the area. Taft and other leaders involved in the Texas A&M University and convention center projects held a meeting Aug. 9 for residents to discuss the upcoming construction.
More than $800 million of that $2.5 billion in development is coming from institutional investment from the city for its convention center and City Hall projects and from Texas A&M University for the three buildings it plans to construct. That is closely followed by more than $700 million in hospitality investment, including the upcoming Omni Hotel expansion.
Many of those key developments are located in the southeastern sector of downtown, which is where Texas A&M University, the Fort Worth Convention Center and the Omni Hotel are all planning upcoming projects.
While those are the officially announced projects, Taft expects them to trigger more economic activity.
“There is a lot of land in the immediately adjacent area that can also be redeveloped as well,” said Taft. “We are highly confident that there will be, at a minimum, in all likelihood, more hospitality and more residential built.”
The convention center upgrades will not just change the convention facility, but they also will straighten out Commerce Street, which currently curves around the site. That will create three new blocks downtown across from the center. The expectation is that another hotel will locate there, although nothing has been announced.
The first phase of the convention center upgrade will focus on the back-of-house facilities, permitting the center to operate during phase two, said Mike Crum, director of public events for the city of Fort Worth. “The second phase will modernize and expand the venue's customer-facing facilities,” he said.
Phase 1A of the convention center construction will occur from this month to December 2024, with phase 1b taking place from June 2024 to March 2026. The timeline for phase 2 has not yet been established, said Crum.
The Texas A&M University System in June began construction at 1600 Jones St. on its Law & Education Building, a $150 million, eight-story home for its School of Law, as well as other academic offerings by Texas A&M University, Texas A&M Health and Tarleton State University.
The city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County are collaborating with the Texas A&M System to construct two additional campus buildings over four city blocks owned by the A&M System just east of the current Texas A&M School of Law on the southeast side of downtown.
The second structure, the Research & Innovation Building, is where several Texas A&M System agencies will work alongside private sector tenants. A third structure, the Gateway Building, will house offices, more classroom and meeting spaces and a conference center. The Texas A&M-Fort Worth campus investment is expected to total $350 million.
“I think it’s safe to say that Texas A&M has never seen anything they didn’t want to grow,” said Taft. “So, Texas A&M, over the years, will grow as well.”
A $217 million expansion of the Omni Fort Worth Hotel looks to break ground in the spring of next year and be complete in 2026, said Larry Auth, general manager of the Omni Fort Worth Hotel.
The expansion would give the hotel more than 1,000 guest rooms, up from 618 today, he said, and add about 50,000 square feet of additional meeting space, bringing the hotel to 110,000 square feet.
“We have a couple different restaurant options we will add off the Lancaster side that will create and activate that corridor,” he said. “We’re very excited about that.”
A new 450-space parking garage will be featured, he said.
Mayor Mattie Parker led off the event discussing how important tourism and conventions are to the city.
“Conventions, meetings and events are vital marketing tools for Fort Worth and our economic development team,” she said.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.