The obstructionists are doing their best to stymie plans for a spectacular redevelopment project in Fort Worth’s historic Stockyards, and on June 24 they found an ally. This new friend emerged not from Fort Worth, however, but from Washington, D.C.
At the behest, it seems, of Stockyards interests who oppose the $175 million investment spearheaded by Fort Worth’s Hickman family in partnership with nationally recognized California developer Majestic Realty, a band of D.C. do-gooders known as the National Trust for Historic Preservation came down on the proposed redevelopment as if the investors were plotting to wrecking-ball the Stockyards and turn the beloved area into a landing strip for Meacham Airport.
“A large-scale redevelopment project would forever alter the character of the Stockyards historic district,” wailed the professional preservationists from the nation’s capital.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation did not mention exactly how this eternal alteration would be executed by the developers, probably because they have no earthly idea. It’s obvious that all the Washington preservation crowd knows about this project is what they’ve been told by local opponents who apparently have convinced themselves – and are trying to convince everyone else – that this forward-looking injection of money and money-making growth into a long-dormant tourist destination will sound the death knell for Fort Worth’s Western heritage and the Stockyards’ cherished cowboy-and-cattle culture.
It’s a ridiculous claim, but Fort Worth loves its history so it has gained traction in some circles.
The preservation trust’s criticism of the Hickman-Majestic project was issued in conjunction with the release of the group’s annual list of Most Endangered Historic Places – a list that also included the Grand Canyon, Little Havana in Miami, Fla., the Old U.S. Mint in San Francisco and a structure in West Hollywood, Calif., once called The Factory and later known as Studio One – a gay disco reportedly frequented by the Hollywood in-crowd.
Since the preservation group has no legal standing or enforcement authority of any sort, its list is just a list – no different than those best-and-worst lists we see coming at us from every direction, every day of the week. Does it hearten us to have a national organization pay tribute to the great Fort Worth treasure that sits so proudly on the north side of the city? Of course it does. Does it have one ounce of significance in terms of the city’s future or that of the Stockyards and the ongoing effort to propel it toward a brighter tomorrow? Of course it does not.
City officials and a task force of concerned citizens are working to develop guidelines that will help preserve the Stockyards’ heritage and historical integrity while embarking on an exciting journey of progress and growth. The proposed development is a good thing. It is needed. It is the best news the Stockyards has had in many years.
So chalk up the Washington preservationists’ pronouncements as an unneeded and unwelcome intrusion by outsiders rushing to the aid of local obstructionists who are desperate for any help they can get. Thanks for the press release, D.C. Now mind your own business.