Boutique Hotel Near Dickies Arena Moves Forward

Rendering by Bennett Benner Partners

by Mariana Rivas and Samantha Calimbahin

A zoning change for the boutique hotel that Fort Worth Barber Shop owner Jonathan Morris is planning near Dickies Arena got the green light from the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday — but the unanimous decision didn't come without opposition. 

Located in an old dry ice building across the street from the Dickies Arena, the proposed boutique hotel will have just 19 rooms and span 10,000 square feet. The project also includes a 600-square-foot coffee shop by day and bar by night, an outdoor patio and what Morris describes as an Instagram-worthy ambiance. Morris is partnering with Allen Mederos, owner of ranch retreat Sanders Hitch, in the development. Michael Bennett of Bennett Benner Partners is the architect. 

The city council voted to change the area's zoning from industrial to commercial to allow the hotel. But there was pushback from the hotel’s Arlington Heights neighbors, citing concerns about the public bar, saying it would hamper the safety of residents. They also proposed moving the hotel's parking lot away from the neighborhood. 

“The most affected neighbors and Arlington Heights are in support of this hotel if the parking lot is moved away from the neighborhood,” Brenda Helmer, president of Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association, told the city council during the meeting. 

Councilman Dennis Shingleton, whose district includes the hotel site, said that he supports the project and hopes the developers will continue working with the neighborhood to address concerns. 

"Would I like to see a few changes? Yes. But the neighborhood and those that live very proximal to it have a legitimate complaint with this parking lot," he said during the meeting. "I would like to see it flipped, but it's certainly the developer and the owner's right to build and exercise his creativity however he wants to do it on that property, as long as it's within city standards."

Morris also spoke during the meeting, saying the hotel will not be a disruption or safety hazard to the neighborhood. 

"Over the last few months we’ve heard everything from 'the developers are looking to create a party palace' to 'this is going to increase crime in the neighborhood.' How some have arrived at these conclusions is beyond me," Morris told the city council. His speech also appears in a column on medium.com.

"Our intention has been and will continue to be good neighbors and add to our community as we have for the last decade,” he said. 

Morris told Fort Worth Magazine that he wanted to cater to locals just as much as travelers. Although they aren’t appealing to a millennial audience exclusively, Morris said he wouldn’t be surprised if those were their biggest customers.

“We want to be mindful of the way that a new generation of travelers think, the way they interact with the world,” he said.

The expected grand opening is in fall 2020.