Council Report: More Pioneer Tower funds approved

Pioneer Tower at Will Rogers Memorial Center. (Photo by K.P. Wilska) 


It’s going to take a little more money than originally planned, but Fort Worth leaders are excited about what lies ahead for the renovation of one of its most treasured landmarks.

At Tuesday’s Fort Worth City Council meeting, the council approved an additional $981,050 for rehabilitation of the 84-year-old Pioneer Tower at Will Rogers Memorial Center. With the additional funds, which are related to scaffolding and demolition, the total cost of the project will now be a projected $4,737,100.

City officials said unforeseen conditions have been identified necessitating additional repairs. Additionally, extended life treatments are being recommended, including the repair and/or replacement of mortar, and sealing of the masonry to preserve the longevity of the structure. Also, structurally related masonry enhancements are proposed that will enable a consistent exterior elevational view of the historic structures and re-establish the original luster of the interior terrazzo floors within the main Coliseum entry and hallway. Both these treatments are expected to extend the life of the facility and reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

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In addition, the cost for the scaffolding which served to support both the asbestos removal on the tower and the rehabilitation project, must be increased accordingly.

“It’s not surprising that we had to come back with some extra money to do the repairs,” District 7 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton said. “The last thing we want is for it to continue its degradation.”

Zavala said the lighting in the tower will be changed to LED. Also, he said around 6,000 glass blocks from New Zealand will be installed as replacements. The visitors center and ticket booths will get makeovers.

Funding will come from the Public Events Department Public Events Capital Fund.

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“The rehabilitation of the 1936 Pioneer Tower represents a significant reinvestment into an iconic landmark in the community,” interim Public Events Director Richard Zavala said. “As we approach the opening of the Dickies Multi-purpose Arena we are able to celebrate the public/private partnership that served as the genesis of the Will Rogers Memorial Complex over 80 years ago, with the next great public/private partnership that will result in this state-of-the-art arena in 2019. Legacy projects for Fort Worth into the future.”

Zavala said there will also be annual inspections henceforth.

“We’re going to make sure going forward that we look at this structure and address things as they come up rather than every 80 years,” he said.

A significant portion of the work is anticipated to be completed by Oct. 31, which is within schedule to conduct the celebration for relighting of the tower on Nov. 6. It will be the first time the tower has been lit in several decades.