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Two public/private construction projects set to transform downtown Fort Worth

February 10,2023

See full Community Impact article by Mark Fadden here.

If two planned projects come to fruition, downtown Fort Worth could be changing not only cosmetically, but also in how it supports technology and innovation.

The first major project will be the convention center expansion. Announced late last year, the expansion will take place in two phases. Three firms, AECOM Hunt, Byrne and EJ Smith, have been contracted to manage the first phase. Under the contract, the firms will manage the full scope of the first phase of the project’s construction for up to $30 million, according to a city press release.

The first phase includes building new state-of-the-art food and beverage facilities, demolishing the existing annex, realigning Commerce Street to create a site pad for a future convention hotel, and increasing the center’s loading docks, according to a city press release. This phase is expected to begin construction in mid-2023 and be completed in 2026. The overall project is estimated to cost between $400 million and $500 million.

“The AECOM Hunt/Byrne/EJ Smith team combines a national builder with 35 years of extensive convention center expansion expertise with reputable local builders who have past experience with our center and deep roots in Fort Worth,” said Mike Crum, director of public events for the city of Fort Worth.

The second major project is physically intertwined with the convention center expansion. The Texas A&M University System’s downtown research campus, officially named Texas A&M-Fort Worth, will anchor a technology and innovation district planned around the redevelopment of the city’s convention center.

The three-building complex, to be built on four blocks at the site of the Texas A&M School of Law, will provide a range of programs offered by Texas A&M University, Tarleton State University and several A&M System agencies, according to a city press release.

“A top-10 public research institution ensures Fort Worth’s future is rooted in the next economy driven by an educated workforce, whether it be lawyers, engineers, health care professionals or technology workers whose jobs don’t even exist today,” Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said.

The complex will include classrooms, labs and flexible research space that can be used by the public and private sectors for academic programs, workforce training and collaborative research in the fields of engineering, emergency management communications, agriculture, health sciences and visualization, among others, according to a city press release.

The Law & Education Building, which is expected to be completed in 2025, will be financed with bonds backed by the Permanent University Fund and other sources. The other two facilities, the Research and Innovation building and the Gateway conference center and offices, will be financed with city-issued bonds secured by leases to the A&M System and private sector development firms, according to a city press release. By using a combination of funding from both public and private sources, it allows the campus to be constructed in about a third of the 15 years it would take for the Texas A&M system to do it alone.

“Thanks to our partners, the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the Texas A&M system is investing in a unique public-private sector endeavor that will be a magnet for economic growth for the North Texas region,” Sharp said.

Location Mentioned: Texas A&M University School of Law