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Group buys former Armour meatpacking site in Stockyards

🕐 5 min read

Scott Nishimura snishimura@bizpress.net

The 16.8-acre site of the historic, former Armour meatpacking plant in Fort Worth’s Stockyards has changed hands, and its new owners aren’t saying anything about their plans.

Chesapeake Land Development Co., which bought the site atop a hill on East Exchange Street overlooking the Stockyards in 2007, has sold the site to an entity called Niles City Resort, people involved in the deal confirmed Tuesday.

Investor and Stockyards businessman Philip Murrin, son of the former Fort Worth City Councilman Steve Murrin, represented Niles City in negotiations. Murrin did not return phone and email messages for comment.

Don Jury, a longtime partner of the Murrins in various ventures including the Billy Bob’s Texas honky tonk in the Stockyards, declined Tuesday to say whether he is a partner in the new one.

“I’ve got a binding non-disclosure agreement with the other people not to discuss specifics,” Jury, when asked if he is an investor in the deal, said in a brief interview with The Business Press.

Jury in April formed a Haltom City-based entity called Niles City Resort Limited, according to state records, but it wasn’t clear Tuesday whether that’s the same entity that purchased the Exchange Street site.

The transaction was Chesapeake’s latest local divestiture. The company, which has been shedding assets, recently sold its Fort Worth regional headquarters tower downtown.

Chesapeake, which bought the Stockyards property at 400 E. Exchange as a potential natural gas drill site, was asking $4.7 million. Chesapeake razed the buildings, and the site – across from the historic Swift & Co. packing plant offices that became a Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant and now are offices for XTO Energy – is vacant today.

The high-profile site earlier this year became part of the dustup among various Stockyards stakeholders over a controversial, major redevelopment planned by a partnership of Majestic Realty of California and Fort Worth’s Hickman family, long the Stockyards’ largest property owner.

An investment group, unidentified publicly before Tuesday, put down a contract on the 400 E. Exchange site. The former councilman Murrin purchased another Chesapeake site this summer on Northeast 23rd Street on the southern boundary of the Stockyards adjacent to his family’s River Ranch event venue.

The Murrins and numerous other Stockyards stakeholders questioned the speed at which an incentive agreement for the Majestic-Hickman partnership came before the City Council, worrying that the redevelopment plan could jeopardize the district’s authentic flavor and appeal to visitors.

Craig Cavileer, one of two Majestic principals overseeing the Stockyards project, said Tuesday a developer that’s a key part of the new 400 E. Exchange ownership group has been in touch with Majestic-Hickman, which owns adjoining property on Niles City Boulevard between Exchange and Northeast 23rd.

“They’d like to talk to us, have an open dialogue,” he said. “We’re just observers.”

If the site becomes home to lodging, as the name of the partnership suggests, Stockyards stakeholders agree there’s more significantly room for hotels in the district, with its big visitor draw.

The Majestic-Hickman plan, in concept, includes two hotels.

“Conceptually,” Cavileer said. “It could be two or more.”

As his partnership builds out its plan, which calls for entertainment, restaurant, and retail, that will create more demand for lodging, he said.

“Demand will be affected dramatically by what type of product” goes in, he said.

Mike Costanza, Sr., a longtime Stockyards property owner and investor who’s been selling his holdings, has maintained he believes there’s room at the East Exchange site for a hotel for horse owners, complete with stables and parking for trailers.

“You’ve got quarter-million-dollar horse trailers, and there’s no place to park them,” said Costanza, who this summer sold a site on North Main Street that will become home to a new limited-service hotel. “It’s high-end for horse people.”

Chesapeake was represented in both Stockyards sales by Eric Walsh, of HGC Commercial Real Estate.

COUNCIL FORMS STOCKYARDS TASK FORCE

Separately, the Fort Worth City Council Tuesday night formed a 15-member task force to advise the city on the creation of a Historic Stockyards design district that guides future development.

The task force will be chaired by the Fort Worth architect Eric Hahnfeld, and be responsible for confirming the district’s boundaries and scope of work for a consultant, and identifying a consultant; confirming the public input process and reviewing public comments; reviewing and commenting on the consultant’s work; and recommending design district boundaries, standards, and guidelines for the City Council’s consideration.

The task force will complete its duties and be disbanded by June 30 next year. Its meetings will be open to the public.

On July 15, the City Council approved a zoning change in the Stockyards to mixed-use zoning and directed the city staff to create a design district that would help ensure that future development is consistent with the district’s historic and western character. The push for design standards is driven by a major redevelopment plan planned by Majestic Realty and Fort Worth’s HIckman family.

Members:

  • Eric Hahnfeld, architect, chairman
  • Lori Gordon, Urban Design Commission, District 2
  • Robert Gutierrez, Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission, District 2
  • Carlos Flores, Zoning Commission, District 2, Northside Neighborhood Association
  • Tarrant County Commissioner J.D. Johnson, Precinct 4
  • Bob Adams, board member, Historic Fort Worth, Inc.
  • Hub Baker, executive director, Stockyards Championship Rodeo
  • Gary Brinkley, general manager, Stockyards Station
  • Craig Cavileer, executive vice president, Majestic Realty Co.
  • Marty Humphrey, president, North Fort Worth Historical Society
  • Don Jury, general partner, Stockyards 2000
  • Billy Minick, co-owner, Billy Bob’s Texas
  • Phillip Murrin, co-owner, Murrin Bros. 1885
  • Keith Powell, president, Stockyards Business Association
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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