Fort Worth Council approves hotel plan for Cultural District with some revisions

The Fort Worth Cultural District is getting an addition – and while it’s a tall order, it might not be as tall as originally planned.

No, it’s not another museum. It’s a luxury hotel to accommodate folks visiting the district.

The Fort Worth City Council approved an agreement with Heart of America (HOA) Group LLC at it’s March 7 meeting for the construction of a Hotel Renovo and accompanying J Bar.

The new hotel will be located at 3300 Camp Bowie with access from The Modern and Kimbell art museums.

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However, the original feature of 12 floors has been amended, along with some other changes per request of some folks who did not want to see such a tall building constructed in the district.

“We would like to see one there, just not the one before you tonight,” Jerri Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, Inc. told the council. “A 12-story hotel does not fit the definition of boutique, and like the condos built next to Dallas’ Sculpture Gardens, it would run the risk of scorching landscapes.”

Kris Calvert, president of the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said his organization also had concerns over the proposed height of the hotel.

“We believe great care must be taken to be sensitive to the low scale that is the hallmark of the museum campus,” he said.

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After listening to the comments, and after postponing the vote for two weeks for further discussion, District 7 Councilman Dennis Shingleton proposed several changes that were accepted and approved unanimously by the council:

*The minimum 12-story height be deleted.

*The minimum number of rooms be reduced from 200 to 170.

*The minimum construction cost be reduced from $47 million to $41 million.

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*The minimum hard construction cost be reduced from $36.5 million to $31 million.

*The term of the lease be increased from 16 to 18 years.

*The chart specifying minimum annual grant caps be deleted with the understanding there will be an aggregate program cap of $6.7 million net present value at 6 percent with potential for a $7.2 million cap proportional to the additional number of rooms over the original 170.

“We’re not cutting corners. We’re not speeding up. We’re going through it by the numbers as we would always have,” Shingleton said.

The new hotel has a planned 9,000 square foot combined meeting space (which may include ballroom, conference room, or boardroom space as well as rooftop banquet space) and 2,500 square foot retail space within or connected to the hotel, with street frontage and direct street access.

The city will provide 100 percent of the costs from its 7 percent hotel occupancy tax with annual caps. The city will own the land lease to the developer.

Occupancy is planned by Dec. 31, 2019, the same year the new arena in the Museum District is also expected to open.

“The trickle down effect it provides up and down Camp Bowie is going to be great,” Shingleton said in a statement prior to the meeting. “I think it has a great nexus.”

Fort Worth Director of Economic Development Robert Sturns called the hotel a “key piece to addressing the needs in the cultural district.” He said as the district continues to grow, the necessity for a hotel also increases.

Sturns and Shingleton agreed the hotel will likely become a destination for people visiting the city and the Museum District.

“It’s a great location,” Shingleton said. “We have some hotels in the vicinity, but not of that type.”

And none that are within walking distance of the museums, which the new hotel will be.

City officials estimate the new hotel’s sales tax revenue could help pay off the arena.

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 Fort Worth Central City. The hotel’s annual spending, per agreement, would be at least 15 percent with Fort Worth companies and 15 percent with Fort Worth Minority/Women in Business Enterprise.

The Fort Worth location will be the first in Texas for a HOA hotel, which operates 14 hotels through the Midwest.