Hotel project could bring Arlington more than hotel, restaurants

An Arlington hotel development could host more than baseball games and corporate conventions. What developers call Texas Live! also could attract employers in creating collaborative workspaces.

“Maybe this is something we would consider,” said Rob Matwick, executive vice president, business operations for the Texas Rangers, discussing development plans surrounding Globe Life Park at a January 13 meeting in Fort Worth.

Speaking at the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition’s monthly meeting in downtown, Matwick summarized a $200 million project announced in December that’s expected to enliven Arlington’s entertainment district just south of Interstate 30.

Specifically, developer The Cordish Companies plans a 100,000-square-foot dining and entertainment district, as well as a 300-room hotel and 35,000-square-foot convention facility between Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium at the corner of Randol Mill Road and Nolan Ryan Expressway.

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By unanimous approval, the Arlington City Council in December gave its thumbs-up for the project, a public-private partnership calling for the city to invest $50 million, with $150 million coming from private sector investment.

Employment is expected to benefit, with the project creating about 1,800 jobs, including 1,000 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs. The project is expected to generate about $100 million per year of economic output for the city and Tarrant County as it generates about $2 billion in direct and indirect salaries during its first 40 years.

But it could yield more.

What could be modeled after a collaborative workspace in Baltimore, Md. called Spark, also spearheaded by Cordish, the area surrounding Globe Life Park could draw young entrepreneurs, Matwick said. They could seed new companies while drawing prospective employees and investors to town while making Arlington that much more attractive to new business.

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“With our population base, this could be something that has legs in our area,” Matwick said.

Arlington’s answer to Spark could help businesses connect with industry professionals in education, health care and information technology, among others, Matwick said.

“Think about TCU, UTA, SMU, TCC and all the young people coming out of school,” Matwick said. “They could collaborate with others, go and and start their own business.”
Nothing has been formally proposed for a concept that Matwick said could spur serious discussion as Texas Live! takes shape.

“This state-of-the-art development will expand the city’s ability to host even more major events and conventions,” said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams when the project was announced in December.

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With the project expected to move forward by the end of 2016, the city would provide the Rangers performance-based incentives that include retaining income from several sources. Those are the hotel occupancy tax, property tax, sales tax and mixed beverage tax for 30 years from the city and hotel occupancy tax and sales tax from the state for 10 years.

The hotel and convention facility would generate about 1,225 additional jobs, including 1,000 construction and 225 permanent jobs, according to project planners.

Hotel-convention center construction is expected to occur in 2018, with the retail-entertainment component starting construction later this year and reaching completion within 12 months.

“Ideally, we’d like to be open prior to [Texas Rangers baseball season] opening day next year. It’s ambitious, but then again, this whole project is ambitious,” Matwick said.