The Fort Worth Convention Center expansion could soon breathe new life into downtown as a pedestrian-friendly destination. The City Council met Tuesday to discuss the timeline and potential design plans for the project.
A new entertainment district
Phase One includes a new state-of the-art industrial kitchen and demolishing the annex to increase the number of loading docks to 19.
The proposed designs incorporate an outdoor decorative wall or video screen along Commerce Street to create a more aesthetically pleasing look and to hide the docks from the public.
Once the annex is demolished, the awkward curve in Commerce Street will be straightened to create a mixed-use urban space with new shops, restaurants, and other entertainment. It will also make way for a new hotel and additional parking.
Originally expected to cost about $52 million, the new plans will bring the total to $95 million. City leaders will vote on issuing revenue bonds for the project in February. Construction is set to begin in August and wrap up in 2026. Note: The convention center will remain open during renovations.
In September, the city selected Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates Inc. (TVS), a global architectural design firm teaming with Fort Worth-based Bennett Partners, as the architect design firm + AECOMHunt, Byrne and EJSmith for the construction.
A pedestrian-focused center
Phase Two of the project will include demolishing the 1968 saucer-shaped arena on the north side of the building and replace it with additional meeting space. The goal is to create an all-new entertainment district with hopes of connecting the convention center to the new Texas A&M-Fort Worth.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Michael Bennett of Bennett Partners said the project will be similar to “Dallas’s AT&T Discovery District, but turned on its side” with high-tech interactive installations and a pedestrian-friendly gathering space. Michael emphasized the requests for additional shade to create a more welcoming environment during the hotter months of the year.
This phase is projected to cost about $606 million with a construction timeline of 36 months.
The city hopes that once the renovations are complete, it will create a picturesque view of the Tarrant County Courthouse on the other end of Main Street.