Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Will The Heritage Conceptual Plan Improve Or Destroy The Fort Worth Stockyards?

Among my Facebook friends are a couple guys who contribute much to the preservation of that which needs to be preserved of the historical sort in Fort Worth.

Lately the object of historical preservation concern has been the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historical District.

I have long opined that the Fort Worth Stockyards is the best tourist attraction in the D/FW Metroplex, and that the Fort Worth Stockyards are the only part of Fort Worth which is remotely unique, as in not found elsewhere.

I have also long opined that it seems to me that the city of Fort Worth, as in the town's city government, does not do enough to improve the Stockyards.

Although, I must admit, during the course of my time of observing the Fort Worth Stockyards there have been many improvements. Things like artwork of the sculpture sort. Improved amenities for visitors, like more seating spots, more shade and misters.

And the tacky carnival rides have long been gone, replaced by a nice looking hotel.

However, there are many things about the Fort Worth Stockyards which could use some fixing. The long abandoned New Isis Theater eyesore comes to mind. Along with other abandoned buildings which have long been boarded up. Really, would it not take just a little effort and not much money to make those abandoned buildings look worthy of a National Historical District?

Back to those aforementioned Facebook friends. Lately they have been talking about the controversial private development known as the Fort Worth Stockyards Heritage Conceptual Plan.

You can check out a power point presentation of that plan by clicking the link in the above paragraph.

When I checked out the plan I was a bit surprised to find that it is a much more ambitious plan than I realized. I thought the idea was just to develop the big open space to the east of Billy Bobs.

Well, the open space to the east of Billy Bobs is just one part of the three part plan, with that east of Billy Bobs part of the plan being called the Stockyards North District. That district includes stores, restaurants, offices, a hotel, an entertainment lounge, with all of this centered around three acres of something called Festival Green.

Another district of the plan is called the Marine Creek District. This is to the south of the existing Stockyards and includes activating the mule barns, whatever that means, plus more stores, restaurants, 250 parking spaces and office space.

The third district in the plan is the Swift-Armor District, that being the area to the east of the existing Stockyards which I have long called the Stockyard Ruins.

The Stockyard Ruins, I mean, Swift-Armor District will include more office space, a hotel, more restaurants, two residential areas, a parking garage with 450 spaces, along with surface parking with 500 more parking spaces.

Will the Swift-Armor District preserve any of the Stockyard Ruins? I hope so. I'd never seen anything like the Stockyard Ruins before I moved to Texas. They look like photos I've seen of war zones. Like Berlin at the end of World War II.

The concern over the Fort Worth Stockyards Heritage Conceptual Plan is that the actual concept of the plan may not pay proper homage to the actual heritage of the Fort Worth Stockyards, possibly destroying that which makes the Stockyards unique.

From what I have seen of the plan and what with my limited understanding of it, I can sort of get behind the Stockyards North District part of the plan. I'm not so sure about the Marine Creek District part of the plan, and I really don't like the Swift-Armor District part of the plan, unless it somehow preserves some of the Stockyard Ruins.

What I really think will happen is this plan will peter out and never happen, just like the countless failed attempts to restore the New Isis Theater to its former glory.....


Anonymous said...

Marine Creek Vision Boondoggle meets (TRV) Panther Island Vision Boondoggle.
Mr. Murrin and most of the long-standing business people in the Stockyards area, welcome the TRV, and lobbied to extend the expansion of the filling of Marine Creek to attract development, or even River Boat Casinos, along the creek. Holt Hickman did invest in the Livestock Exchange Building, but at one time, envisioned it as a casino. Rep. Geren has even floated test legislation to gauge the temp of State waters for the legalization of such gambling.
Murrin was wholeheartedly and singularly working to make the Stockyards area vital and authentic. After many years of struggle, he was able to attract west side money to assist in his Vision. Now it seems like a "be careful what you ask for" issue.
It's so hard to slow or stop any economic development scheme. It's the Mothers Milk of Growth, Growth, Growth. TRV is an acute example to the point that a key element was felt to be unneeded... Public vote.
Time will never stands still. Even now, a stroll down Exchange looks very different than it did just 20 or so years ago.
I feel for Steve Murrin. He did the Hokey Pokey and put his Whole Self In! Those that have come since have helped to preserve, but Heritage takes a back seat to Mothers Milk!

Steve A said...

If the idea is that the "plan will peter out and never happen," JD Granger would be just the one to run things.

Durango said...

Good one, Steve A. I liked the Anonymous comment as well.