Council Report: Stockyards’ mule barn gets highest historic designation; dog sculpture

Lorri Acott

As redevelopment looms on the Fort Worth Stockyards’ horse and mule barns, the two structures that make up the barns now have the city’s highest historic designation.

The city council voted March 1 to designate the east mule barn at 124 East Exchange Avenue as “highly significant and endangered” (HSE), meaning the building will receive the highest level of protection and tax incentives. The west mule barn is already designated as HSE.

The barns, constructed in 1911, used to house horses and mules that were up for sale. At one point, the barns could hold up to 3,000 animals.

Renovation on the 180,000 square-foot mule barns is expected to begin in the spring. Along with making structural improvements, architect Bennett Benner Partners plans to turn part of the barns into retail space. Plans for the north elevation, for example, include storefronts with transparent glass windows so customers can see inside – a design that received some opposition when redevelopment plans were presented to the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission last October. In the end, the Landmarks Commission approved the project and granted a certificate of appropriateness.

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The mule barn project is part of the bigger, $175 million project by California-based Majestic Realty and Fort Worth’s Hickman family, together known as Fort Worth Heritage Development. The duo plans to bring a hotel, retail and other development to a 70-acre portion of the Stockyards owned by the Hickman family. In June 2014, the city council approved about $26 million in tax incentives for the project – a move that kickstarted a number of initiatives to bring regulation to new construction in the Stockyards. Those initiatives include the creation of a design overlay district and the ongoing effort to create a historic district and form-based code.

In addition to increasing the mule barns’ historic designation, the council approved a measure requiring the Urban Design Commission to have a member with a historic preservation background. Bob Adams, board member of Historic Fort Worth Inc., is already filling that position.

A bar and patio for Taco Heads

Taco Heads’ brick and mortar location has been open for less than three months and it’s already expanding.

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The city council approved a zoning change that would allow the restaurant to build a bar/cantina and patio to go along with its existing restaurant at 1812 Montgomery Street. The bar would be located next door to the restaurant in an adjacent building, which previously had retail zoning that required alcohol to be consumed off premises. With the zoning change, Taco Heads would be allowed to build the bar as part of the restaurant.

The bar and restaurant will be connected by a 1,479 square-foot patio, which will be used for outdoor dining and live music. Managing director and part owner Jacob Watson said the patio would also be used to show films and live television events like the presidential debates.

“Think about it – moderates, Republicans, Democrats under one roof, drinking, eating tacos,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ll tell you this. I think it’ll be a success, and that’s going to happen on the patio.”

Along with the added bar and patio, the restaurant plans to add 16 additional parking spaces to its existing 14 spaces, for a total of 30 spaces. The added parking will be behind the Hale House Vintage Living boutique – the store with the big airplane – next door.

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“We’re a busy restaurant,” Watson said. “We’re already seeing this now. There’s just not enough room for parking, period. There just isn’t. What we’re doing right now is trying to work with the city to get that parking to assure that we have the space as we expand.”

Watson said construction will start as soon as possible.

Taco Heads began as a food truck and opened its first physical location in January. Its tacos feature fillings like brisket, chicken, shrimp and tilapia. The restaurant also serves breakfast tacos filled with ingredients like egg, chorizo and bacon.

Sculpture for dog park

The city council had no bones to pick when it unanimously approved a bronze sculpture for Z Bonz Dog Park.

The 10-acre dog park, which is part of North Z Boaz Park at 6950 West Camp Bowie Blvd., will soon have a five-foot sculpture of a human and a dog titled Who Rescued Who, sculpted by American artist Lorri Acott. The sculpture will be placed on top of a wall by the entrance of the dog park.

The city will pay $30,000 for the acquisition and delivery of the sculpture.