Just over four decades ago an organization was formed to be the catalyst for transforming downtown Fort Worth into a vibrant place to live, visit and conduct business – all the things that make Fort Worth the popular destination it is today and one of America’s fastest growing cities.
That organization, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. (DFWI), will hold its 40th Annual Meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 6, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The event is a gathering of leading downtown business leaders, government officials, regional professionals and advocates who are involved in the successful development of downtown Fort Worth.
“This special luncheon celebrates the people, projects and programs that advance the cause of downtown,” said Nicole Fincher, Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s director of community development.
The meeting will launch Plan 2033, the next update of Downtown Fort Worth’s 10-Year Strategic Action Plan. Downtown has undergone dramatic changes over the past 10 years and is expected to experience even more in the future.
Keynote speaker will be Scott Page of Interface Studio LLC, the consulting firm guiding Plan 2033. Downtown Fort Worth Inc. President Andy Taft will present his annual downtown update.
In celebration of the upcoming Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the program will feature a live piano performance by a Cliburn competitor.
From the ascendancy of residential housing as a powerful economic force to the surge of hotel development and the recent announcement of Texas A&M’s expansion, downtown’s dynamics have changed. Plan 2033 is designed to set the course for the next 10 years.
“DFWI is successful because of the scores of people who, through the years, have volunteered their time, talent and treasure to the organization and mission, Ficer said. “Those people built on the work of those before them, and our current volunteers are continuing that tradition. As we begin Downtown Plan 2033, we begin with the long-held belief that all of downtown is important, and each part of the center city works as part of the whole.”
DFWI, a nonprofit organization, was started by downtown business leaders to fight the unintended effects of urban sprawl triggered by the construction of the U.S. Interstate system, Fincher explained. Downtown was declining as businesses fled the center city for shopping malls and suburban locations.
“Fort Worth needed an organization to focus on downtown, plan for its renewal and assure that plan was implemented,” she said.
DFWI is Downtown Fort Worth’s planning, advocacy, public space and project management organization, Fincher, said. Unlike a master planned development or a shopping mall with one owner, downtown has hundreds of owners, some of whom aren’t even in Fort Worth.
“DFWI serves as a planning organization, a consensus builder, public space manager, cheerleader, event producer, advocate, private sector partner to local government and a host of other roles in order to help downtown perform as if it had centralized management,” she said. “This makes downtown more a more efficient, enjoyable and valuable place for corporate offices, merchants, residents and visitors. Downtown is the heart of Fort Worth, and a strong heart is important to the entire city.”
Over its history, DFWI has unveiled four consecutive 10-year plans that have helped guide and inspire the positive growth of downtown. Highlights from them, working with public and private partners, include:
- Creation of the Downtown Public Improvement District, the first in the State of Texas.
- Downtown Clean Team and Ambassadors.
- Creation of the Downtown TIF District, the first in the city.
- Creation of the Downtown Neighborhood Alliance.
- Inspired the creation of the Fort Worth PD Mounted Patrol program.
- Creation of the Downtown Urban Design Standards.
- Water Gardens/Convention Center Event Plaza design.
- MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival.
- Parade of Lights.
- Development of the Hillside Apartments (now Jennings Place).
- Development of the JFK Tribute in Fort Worth.
- Redevelopment of Burnett Plaza.
- Heritage Park redevelopment plans.
- The recruitment of the IM Terrell Academy for STEM & VPA in Butler Place and the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.
- Commissioning of the original study that helped inspire Texas A&M’s planned downtown expansion.
- Downtown wayfinding signage program.
“In addition to these, developing and working to maintain a cooperative and collaborative spirit among the property owners of downtown, government and the various agencies that work every day to ensure that Fort Worth develops positively,” Fincher added.
Plan 2033 will focus on key performance sectors for downtown, including business development, education, hospitality, housing, retail, arts and entertainment, transportation, urban design, public art and open space.