The Pier 1 tower will soon be Fort Worth’s new City Hall. Here’s what it looks like
See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Luke Ranker here.
No Pier 1 Imports throw pillows, accent rugs or furniture could be found at the company’s former corporate headquarters. Instead Fort Worth’s city logo, the longhorn, marked the iconic tower as the new City Hall.
City Manager David Cooke and Mayor Betsy Price gathered Tuesday with City Council members and staff in the lobby of the high-rise at 100 Energy Way to formally unveil the new city hall, saying they hope the former office building will be a more welcoming public space than the current city hall.
Cooke has lauded the deal to purchase the tower for just under $70 million as “lucky” since the city had anticipated asking voters to support twice that in the 2022 bond election to build a new, more modern city hall.
“It’s not just about money,” Cooke said. “This is an incredible building that will be inviting and more accessible to the people of Fort Worth — this is their building.”
Price said the large lobby could feature events and art galleries. An architect will be hired to scope how to best open the tower to the public, including where to house the City Council chambers.
As Cooke and Price noted repeatedly: parking will be free.
The city plans to hire a consultant to help move city offices from several buildings in the central city over the course of the next year, and Price said she anticipates taking public comments on to use the building.
Price, who will not have an office in the new city hall as she is not running for reelection, said 200 Texas Street is simply outdated.
“It never had the warmth and the look that a major city should have in their city hall,” she said.
The City Council’s Feb. 9 retreat will be held in large conference rooms on the mezzanine floor. Multiple companies occupy the top third of the tower, and will be allowed to stay though the end of their leases.
Price said the city may look into changing the name of the small street that runs in front of the tower, suggesting Fort Worth Avenue. The city plans to continue illuminating the tower’s iconic rooftop lights, which glow various colors based on a holiday or special event.
The purchase removes a significant property from the downtown office market. Cooke said the fact that the city was approached with idea of buying the building indicated there had not been significant interest in the tower. A commercial real estate expert told the Star-Telegram last year the transaction would likely be a boon to downtown office owners as a massive amount of space comes off the market.
Though the city acted quickly to close the deal, it had been in the works quietly for months. Cooke and Price announced Dec. 2 the city’s intention to buy the 18-story tower on the northwestern edge of downtown. The City Council Dec. 15 approved approved $100 million in tax notes to cover the purchase and potential construction costs.
The sale closed Jan. 27 and the building should be operating as City Hall by late 2022.
Cooke floated the idea of consolidating city offices into a new city hall in 2019, but the idea has existed for decades, including at one point a plan buy the historic Post Office on Lancaster. Cooke’s original proposal included a new building fronting Lancaster Avenue on the south end of downtown that would cost $151 million to $200 million.
The Pier 1 tower provides about 410,000 square feet with a parking garage that can be expanded, according to the city.
The building is touted as 20 stories, but it’s actually missing two. There is no fourth floor, which is seen as bad luck in Chinese culture, and no 13th floor, a bad omen in Western culture.
Each floor has office suites with views of downtown or the Cultural District. Some feature private bathrooms. The central part of each floor is dominated by classic office cubicles. It’s unclear how floors will be redesigned for city use.
A large commercial kitchen and cafeteria is on the ground floor at the west side of the building with views of the sloping lawn and Forest Park Boulevard. Cooke said he’d like to open the space to the public, but there are some security issues to work through. A small gym will be available to city employees.
“Everyone is ready to move over here,” Cooke said during a brief tour.
Location Mentioned: Pier 1 Imports Building