The Great Debate

“As insensitive development threatens this historically significant place, we believe the local preservation community should be part of the city’s dialogue about the district’s future.”
- Stephanie Meeks, President of National Trust for Historic Preservation

“The Stockyards is to Fort Worth what folks want Texas to be, and that’s what makes Fort Worth so special. When people come to Fort Worth, they feel Texas, and nowhere do they feel Texas more than the Stockyards, and we want to preserve that.”
- Sal Espino, Fort Worth City Councilman

The Stockyards Redevelopment Project is back in the news.

Debate was re-ignited following last week’s announcement that the National Trust for Historic Preservation had placed the area on its annual list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” Stockyards’ residents, along with the city’s political elite, are sharply divided on the subject, despite repeated reassurances from the landowners and developers that the renovations will be approached in a historically sensitive manner.

In case you haven’t been following the debate, here’s a recap:

January, 2014
The media receives its first hint that something major is afoot when a prominent member of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce makes reference to it during the 2014 Tarrant County Commercial Real Estate Forecast.

May 21, 2014
Mayor Betsy Price picks up the teaser campaign, saying “You’re about to see an announcement about the Stockyards on June 3 that’s going to be really nice,” while speaking at a meeting of the Woodhaven Neighborhood Association.

June 3, 2014
The Fort Worth-based Hickman family and California-based Majestic Realty Co. formally announce that they are teaming up on a $175 million dollar project aimed at redeveloping nearly 70 acres in the district, much of which is currently zoned as industrial. The partnership will be officially known as Fort Worth Heritage Development LLC.

June 9, 2014
The Fort Worth City Council approves a multi-million dollar incentive package designed to help finance the project in an 8-1 vote. Records indicate that more than 70 people signed up to address the council before the vote took place, many of them in opposition to the plan.

July 9, 2014
The Fort Worth Zoning Commission votes on package of zoning changes designed to move the project forward. The council votes 4-3 for the package, with two members abstaining. Because a formal recommendation requires a minimum of five votes, this means that the zoning commission effectively declined to make a recommendation either way, while still moving the bill on to the City Council.

July 15, 2014
The council approves zoning changes, converting the district to mixed-use zoning. 

November 15, 2014
Holt Hickman, founder of the Hickman Group and the highly-respected force behind the Stockyards’ last redevelopment project in the ’90s, dies. Leadership of the company formally passes to his son, Brad Hickman, and daughter, Brenda Kostohryz. 

October 21, 2014
A volunteer-based task force is appointed by the city, with the purpose of planning a design district within the Stockyards that will serve as a guide for future development.

December 2, 2014
The City Council unanimously approves a 20-year, 925-acre Stockyards-Northside tax increment finance district, designed to raise $40 million dollars for infrastructure repairs and other redevelopment projects.

June 25, 2015
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announces that it has identified the Fort Worth Stockyards as one of the most endangered historic places in the U.S.

Now tell us. What do you think about the development plan?

Go for it! The capital infusion will go a long way toward preserving the Stockyards for future generations.

No way! We can preserve our heritage without sacrificing the Stockyards’ authenticity.