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What’s to come for the Convention Center District

The renovation will create a pedestrian-friendly destination with shops, walkways, and restaurants.

FTW-Fort Worth Convention Center

Construction on Phase 1 of the Convention Center began in August 2022. | Rendering via the City of Fort Worth

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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.

FTW-Convention Center plans

The rendering shows plans for a new hotel, sidewalks, and a street open to cars.

Rendering provided by The City of Fort Worth

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.

FTW-Convention Center plans

There’s a big emphases on the area being pedestrian-friendly.

Rendering provided by The City of Fort Worth

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.

FTW-Convention Center plans

A look at what Commerce Street could look like.

Rendering provided by The City of Fort Worth

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.

FTW-Convention Center plans

The rendering shows a shaded structure above and video screens on the right.

Rendering provided by The City of Fort Worth

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.

FTW-Convention Center map

A bird’s eye view of downtown.

Rendering courtesy of The Texas A&M System

What’s next?

The city has released an updated construction timeline for the $700 million renovation of the Convention Center.

The steel piers for the entrance + second-story catering kitchen went up in May, bringing Phase One into its second year of construction. The new southeast entrance, kitchen, and demolition of the Annex are all slated for winter 2024. A Phase One completion date in spring 2026 is still in the cards.

Meanwhile, Phase Two is rolling into the planning + design process using funding from the increased hotel occupancy tax passed last month. Plans aren’t expected to be finalized until 2026, with construction to continue through 2030.

Keep reading to learn more about the design.

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