Fort Worth is growing and the City Council is doing its best to keep businesses such as the Parker Hannifin Corp. growing with it. The council approved an economic development agreement with the company on Oct. 25 that gives it a partial rebate of new taxes generated by investment in the facility at 4701 Mercantile St.
Currently a call center, the facility is to be expanded into a 242,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility that will house its Strafoflex divisional headquarters. Parker Hannifin is planning to consolidate its operations and is considering sites in Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.
The Stratoflex Products Division of Parker Aerospace (a division of Parker Hannifin) is an industry leader in the design and manufacture of fluid conveyance systems and components for aircraft and their engines throughout the world. Stratoflex equipment is used by such aircraft manufacturers as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, COMAC, Embraer, Gulfstream and Lockheed Martin, and engine producers such as GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.
The division operates facilities in Fort Worth; Camarillo, California; Jacksonville, Florida; and Monterrey, Mexico.
“Basically the Parker Hannifin deal will be good for Fort Worth because of the number of high-paying jobs that we will be able to retain in the city,” said Fort Worth Economic Development Director Robert Sturns. “It’s always good to keep local companies here as often as we can, especially if they are looking to expand operations.”
Per the agreement, Parker Hannifin will make a capital investment of at least $25.5 million in real and business personal property improvements (exclusive of land costs) by Dec. 31, 2017. It will also spend the greater of 20 percent or $4,340,000 of all hard construction costs with Fort Worth companies, along with the greater of 15 percent or $3,255,000 of all hard construction costs with companies that are certified as owned by women or minorities.
Of the 525 full-time equivalent jobs to be set by Dec. 1, 2018, Parker Hannifin must fill them with a minimum of 40 percent of Fort Worth residents, with a minimum of 20 percent of those living in the central city.
In addition, Parker Hannifin will spend the greater of 35 percent or $1.4 million in annual discretionary service and supply expenses with Fort Worth companies and the greater of 20 percent or $800,000 of that spending with businesses owned by women or minorities.
Sturns said the estimated value of the grants to Parker Hannifin is $1.1 million over 10 years. It would equate to a 60 percent rebate on the new taxes generated, he said.
“The Stratoflex Products Division of Parker Aerospace is a long-time member of the Fort Worth business community,” said Craig Gooding, division general manager of Parker Hannifin. “We are evaluating the possibility of modernizing our production operation by the consolidation of three locations currently occupied by Parker in the area.”
Gooding added that the company is still in the primary stages of the review and no official decision has been made.
However, he said, “I think they are pretty committed to try and make this work in Fort Worth.”
Parker Hannifin posted annual sales of $11 billion in fiscal year 2016 and is considered the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems. The company employs about 49,000 people in 49 countries.
Integrated pipeline update
In its work session, the council was given an update on the regional water supply and the Integrated Pipeline Project.
The pipeline is one of the largest water projects in the United States and has a construction table of 20-plus years. It is a joint project between the Tarrant Regional Water District and the Dallas Water Utilities. It will entail construction of 149 miles of new pipeline and related infrastructure running from Lake Palestine in East Texas to Benbrook Lake in Tarrant County.
Dan Buhman, assistant general manager with the water district, briefed the council on water storage amounts in area lakes in the next few months. He said that under average conditions resembling the past 50 years, the lakes will be full next May. In the worst-case scenario such as drought, they will still be at 85-90 percent capacity, he said.
Buhman also said the pipeline project is ahead of schedule and under its budget of $2.3 billion. He said a portion of the pipeline will likely be in service by early 2018, perhaps even late 2017, pumping water from Richland-Chambers Reservoir, one of its two biggest water sources, along with Cedar Creek Reservoir.
“I mean it will literally be pumping,” Buhman said, adding that by 2020 water will likely be pumping from Cedar Creek to Tarrant County.
Buhman also discussed future water supply strategies, including the Sulphur River Basin, Lake Tehuacana, Toledo Bend and a partnership with Wichita Falls.
“We’re constantly looking at new reservoir options,” he said.
Buhman said some strategies are being considered that do not involve lakes or reservoirs. These include aquifer storage and recovery, ground water and additional re-use.
Buhman noted there are 2,000 acres of wetland near Richland-Chambers. He said water is taken from the river, cleaned and put back in the system.
In an interview outside the work session, Buhman acknowledged that a lawsuit filed by a Dallas man to keep the pipeline from crossing his East Texas property is still pending. However, Buhman said, it won’t affect the Tarrant County section as that property is in the Dallas portion.
But, he said, if the court prevents the pipeline from crossing the property, it would affect both Fort Worth and Dallas economically.
“Having to bypass that property would definitely change the cost by millions of dollars,” he said. “We still have a couple of years before we get to that portion of the pipeline.”
Also in the work session, Randle Harwood, director of planning and development, updated the council on issues of infrastructure funding related to growth. The city’s greatest growth has been in the north and west and is driven by job growth in the area. He said the pattern over the past five years is likely to continue based on population projections and job growth.
Harwood projected that Fort Worth’s population will be over 1 million by 2025, meaning the addition of about 150,000 more people.
“We will need water and sewer as the way to service the growth. We will need roads to access all of those newly developing and redeveloping areas in the city,” Harwood told the council. “As we have more population, it will increase wear and tear on our existing infrastructure and necessitate replacement of some of our aging infrastructure. So the short answer is we will need to spend significantly more on infrastructure.
“An example would be that we have plans for new facilities as we grow as well. So our plans indicate that for every 25,000 people you should have a community center. So over the next 10 years we would need to add six to accommodate the new growth.”
He said there are likely to be three bond elections needed in the next 10 years, and each would need to include a couple of community centers to address the growth. The same can be said for police stations, fire stations, libraries, courts, parks and service centers, he said.
The council authorized the establishment of five quiet zones at railroad crossings: four at Union Pacific Railroad crossings at Kroger Drive, Wall Price Keller Road and two private crossings, and one at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe crossing at Avondale Haslet Road.
Quiet zone crossing improvements are designed to provide additional protections to both residents and trains. The goal is to allow a train to pass through a neighborhood without having to sound its horn. The type of improvements will vary based on the intersection. They could include adding a median so cars cannot pass between the lowered crossing arms or adding a directional train horn focused in one direction. Train operators may still use their horn at such a designated crossing if they believe it is necessary, such as if they see something on the tracks as they approach the crossing.
Casino Beach plans
The council authorized a contract with William J. Schultz Inc., doing business as Circle C Construction Co., allowing for $3.9 million for Love Circle and Casino Beach Park water and sewer extension improvements. The council also approved amending the 2016 fiscal year capital improvements plan to add $1,105,195 for project funding.
A more detailed outline on the city’s website includes these projects: Water and wastewater lines will be extended to the Lake Worth area currently not served by Fort Worth; water lines will be constructed along Watercress Drive from Silver Creek Road to Surfside Drive and across Lake Worth from the south side of the Lake Worth Marina Park to Casino Beach Park; a wastewater lift station is being installed in Casino Beach Park, and a wastewater main will be built from the Meadow Lakes lift station to underneath Lake Worth and to Love Circle and Jacksboro Highway.
Future phases of the project will involve installation of a water line around Love Circle, under Jacksboro Highway to Surfside Drive to Watercress Drive and along Watercress Drive from Surfside Drive to Jacksboro Highway. A wastewater main line will also be included in the construction.