City Council Hotel proposed for Cultural District

Rendering of proposed Hotel Renovo in Cultural District

A new luxury hotel could be on the horizon for the Fort Worth Cultural District.

The Fort Worth City Council heard a briefing from Carol Griffith, business development coordinator for Fort Worth’s Business Assistance Center, recommending that it approve an agreement with Heart of America (HOA) Group LLC at its Feb. 21 meeting.

A Hotel Renovo is being proposed for 3300 Camp Bowie Blvd., at the northwest corner of Camp Bowie Boulevard and Van Cliburn Way, across from The Modern and the Kimbell art museums. It will feature 12 floors, 196,000 square feet and a full-service restaurant.

The incentive proposal calls for the city to rebate the hotel’s 7 percent city occupancy tax for 16 years with the incentive to be capped at $7.2 million. Without the incentive, the economics for a hotel at that location would call for an express-type hotel, according to the city staff’s analysis.

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The projected cost is $47 million in real property investment, $36.5 million in hard construction costs. Occupancy is planned by Dec. 31, 2019, the same year the new arena in the Will Rogers Memorial Center complex is expected to open.

“The Heart of America hotel will be a key piece to addressing the needs in the Cultural District,” said Robert Sturns, director of economic development. “As commercial and tourism growth continues to expand in the area, it is increasingly necessary to have adequate hotel facilities to meet those needs.

“The HOA deal will bring over 200 rooms to the Cultural District, along with a number of amenities that will make this hotel a destination for people visiting the city.”

The plans discussed at the council’s work session said the company plans a 202-room hotel, retail space at street level, a 9,000-square-foot restaurant, a 6,000-square-foot fitness center, 9,000 square feet of ballroom space and a patio-terrace public area. The restaurant will be the Hotel of America’s J Bar brand. The hotel’s proposed height of 155 feet would require a variance from the city.

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Griffith said the state and city shales taxes generated over the 16 years would help pay for the city’s $225 million portion of the arena project.

“We believe [that] without an incentive we can get a very basic hotel, maybe an express hotel” Griffith said, but that only with approval of the incentive can a luxury hotel be built.

The new hotel is projected to create at least 30 full-time jobs by Dec. 31, 2020. Of those, 60 percent would include Fort Worth residents and 25 percent would be residents of Fort Worth’s central city. The hotel’s annual supply and service spending, over the course of the agreement, would be at least 15 percent with Fort Worth companies and 15 percent with Fort Worth businesses owned by women or minorities.

This would the first project in Fort Worth for HOA, which is based in Moline, Illinois.

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In the pre-council session, the council discussed a Texas Enterprise Zone nomination for TTI Inc. The enterprise zone is an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the state to promote job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas.

A business would be nominated by a municipality or county and then approved for state benefits. Designated projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures. The level and amount of refund is related to the capital investment and jobs created at the qualified business site.

The new TTI distribution center is a $74.5 million investment in a 610,000-square-foot facility at 3737 Meacham Blvd. to house the company’s North American warehouse, assembly and distribution facilities. The space will have an extensive picking system with conveyors, pick modules, racking systems and a three-level carousel platform.

The investment will include $51.5 million in real property and $23 million in business personal property. Though TTI has already invested about $46 million, the remaining $28.5 million of investment qualifies TTI for a single Enterprise project designation.

The investment is expected to create at least 10 new jobs and retain about 700 jobs, although the benefit for an Enterprise project designation is capped at 500 jobs.

TTI could be eligible for a maximum refund of $2,500 per job, distributed over the five-year designation period. The maximum potential refund TTI could receive is $1,250,000 over the five years.

Under the Texas Enterprise Zone Act at least 25 percent of the business’ new or retained employees must be residents, economically disadvantaged individuals or veterans. In addition, the jobs would be provided through the end of the designation period or for at least three years after the date on which a state benefit is received, whichever is later.