Business for Breakfast Series: Fort Worth real estate active, brokers say

Fort Worth real estate is robust. Really robust.

From planned downtown parking to Near Southside apartments, city real estate continues powering through a strong economic cycle.

Exactly when that period ends is anyone’s guess, according to industry experts at a recent meeting.

“Real estate is strong – very, very strong – right now,” said Nanci Johnson-Plump, vice president of brokerage services at CBRE, one of four real estate professionals discussing city development at a June 15 breakfast meeting at the Fort Worth Club.

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“The question is what will bring this to an end,” said Johnson-Plump.

No answer came later that day when the Federal Reserve announced no interest rate hike, meaning that the current economic cycle will continue. Such periods, also known as real estate cycles, usually last no longer than nine years and bridge the gap between market downturns and upturns.

Despite a slowdown in U.S. manufacturing, consumer confidence remains high as retail sales continue to rise, according to Macrobond and CBRE research.

Whatever the nation’s economic pulse, Fort Worth residential, retail, office and industrial development remain strong.

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“We have a lot of apartment activity,” said Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc.

As an example, Taft pointed to the Broadstone, a 345-unit apartment community planned for Pier 1 Imports property at Fifth Street and Summit Avenue. He also heralded new downtown parking options such as an 833-space XTO Energy parking garage planned to open later this year between Throckmorton, Sixth, Houston and Seventh streets.

“That will free up a lot of parking for the other buildings in the immediate area. We see it not only great for XTO, but also for the greater downtown area,” Taft said.

Meanwhile, the Near Southside neighborhood just south of downtown continues adding an eclectic array of lofts, apartments and shops. Attracting architects to the area is the area’s form-based code, which follows future development rather than the traditional focus on land use.

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TIF, or tax-increment financing, dollars also have encouraged development in what some developers have called blighted areas. The city has several TIF districts, which take each district’s property value when the TIF was created and set aside district-generated tax revenue above its original property value.

“The tax base has grown tremendously since the TIF was enacted 20 years ago,” said Will Northern, a broker-owner at Northern Realty Group LLC.

The tax base for TIF 4, which includes the Near Southside and medical district, last year exceeded $604 million compared to $231 million in 1997. That’s meant millions of dollars for street and infrastructure improvements, which have helped attract development along Magnolia Avenue. It’s also helped fund South Main Street improvements, which include widening sidewalks and adding trees and historic lamp posts, among other upgrades.

“It looks a little bit like a war zone there now, but it’s really coming along,” Northern said.

Meanwhile, construction continues ramping up, with 63 commercial building permits issued so far this year in the Near Southside. That’s only six months into the year compared to 98 permits issued for the entire year of 2015.

Activity shows no signs of slowing, with future development already underway, said Northern, who did not mention specific projects. Instead, he pointed to hot spots for ongoing development.

“It’s clearly north of Rosedale [Street] beginning to push east. Be looking east of South Main Street. I think there’s going to be a lot of activity there,” Northern said.

Meanwhile, Hillwood’s AllianceTexas development continues to grow.

“We are 50 percent developed and continue to acquire land,” said Reid Goetz, a vice president at Hillwood, developer of the 18,000-acre mixed-use project in far north Fort Worth.

The breakfast was one in a series of Business for Breakfast meetings sponsored by Fort Worth Business, North Texas Community Foundation, Plaid for Women, Texas Mutual Insurance and Northstar Bank. The June 15 event attracted more than 150 developers, real estate brokers and elected leaders to learn the latest in city development.

The next Business for Breakfast meeting is scheduled for Wednesday Aug. 17. It will feature a health care focus. The speaker will be Stuart D. Flynn, the new dean of Fort Worth’s M.D. school, established by the UNT Health Science Center and Texas Christian University.

More information is available by contacting Lauren Vay at