In North Fort Worth, just east of Old Decatur Road and north of Northwest Loop 820, is an expanse of hollowed-out ground, with 50-foot cliffs that mark where gravel production operations used to extract limestone.
But now, the currently vacant, 80-acre site is expected to become home to residential and retail space, hotels, a beach area, splash pad water park, entertainment center — and a Ferris wheel. Thanks to the Fort Worth City Council, which unanimously approved multiple zoning changes Tuesday that would allow the development to be built, the project is one step closer to becoming a reality.
The project’s name? Quarry Falls.
“It’s going to be made into something very unique and somewhat glamorous,” said development manager Ed Casebier of Renaissance Development Company.
Quarry Falls will be anchored by an entertainment complex fronting an existing body of water inside the quarry — the “lake,” as Casebier calls it. The building, which will have a capacity of 3,500, will hold a stage for live performances, a restaurant and an arcade. Casebier said Spencer Taylor, one of the founders of Billy Bob’s, has been tapped to operate the entertainment center, as well as the proposed Ferris wheel, which will be located between the south side of the entertainment center and the highway.
Casebier said the size of the Ferris wheel is still being considered, but it may reach between 80-100 feet; according to a city staff report, the height should not pass 135 feet. The wheel height will need approval from the FAA due to its proximity to Meacham Airport, as well as approval from TxDOT to ensure that the lighting does not distract drivers on the nearby highway.
The east side of the entertainment center will feature a sandy beach-style area along the lake, part of which will be open for swimming and recreation. The north end of the lake will be surrounded by four-story condos and a boardwalk.
On the north and west sides of the center, two hotels are being planned — a full service hotel with 175 rooms and a limited service hotel with 125 rooms.
Residential, restaurant and retail buildings are also part of the project. Fronting Old Decatur Road will be neighborhood retail, such as a grocery store, gas station, bank branch, drug store and fast food facilities.
Parking will be incorporated into the buildings, and additional surface parking for the entertainment facility will be located south of 820.
The master development plan is to sell parcels of the property to specialty developers who will then build the hotels, apartments and other elements of the master plan supported by the market feasibility studies already completed. Ron Hobbs, principal at Ron Hobbs Architecture and Interior Design, is developing the design guidelines. Limestone will be a prominent building material, as a homage to the quarry’s past life.
One of the first steps of the project will be to widen Old Decatur Road fronting the property from two lanes to four and locate a city-approved traffic signal at Old Decatur Road and River Rock Boulevard. The city is already widening Old Decatur Road south of Loop 820. To accelerate the widening of Old Decatur Road, the developer proposed it undertake its widening under a reimbursement agreement with the city.
The current site and future home of Quarry Falls
According to Casebier, the project will be similar to other landmark quarry redevelopments such as the Alamo Quarry Market in San Antonio and the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia.
“It’s the spark plug that will launch a lot of further development around here,” he said.