Hotels on drawing board for Fort Worth

A. Lee Graham Those doubting Fort Worth’s thriving hotel market need look no further than Ross Perot Jr.’s AllianceTexas development. Awaiting construction in the mixed-use community north of downtown is not just one, but possibly several, new overnight-lodging options in the rapidly growing Alliance corridor. “The plan is to develop a hotel or number of hotels in Alliance,” said Steve Aldrich, vice president of Hillwood Properties. Hillwood and the city are in final stages of permit negotiations for a hotel at the northwest corner of Heritage Trace Parkway and Interstate 35W, Aldrich confirmed.

“The overall growth of the area on the corporate side is why we decided to focus on that type of property,” Aldrich said. From downtown and the West Seventh Street corridor to the Cultural District, the demand for hotel space continues fueling discussions over what areas most need such facilities. According to some developers and city leaders, growing numbers of tourists and business travelers are heightening demand for such accommodations in several key locations. “I think you’re going to see hotels of all types being considered,” said Bob Jameson, president and CEO of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tailoring each property to a neighborhood’s individual needs is vital, Jameson said. “It depends on what a particular market might call for,” he said. He pointed to downtown as often demanding more upscale accommodations, while a less formal, extended-stay property might make more sense in a suburban environment. Fort Worth’s hotel industry is growing, according to the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Department. According to a first-quarter 2014 report by the state department, Fort Worth’s total hotel rooms increased from 11,833 in 2013 to 12,265 in 2014, a 3.7 percent increase. In the same period, the city’s total room revenue rose from $65.6 million to $77.7 million, a 12.4 percent increase, and room occupancy rose from 63.4 percent to 66.9 percent, a 3.6 percent increase. “Fort Worth is clearly growing and it clearly has both a growing business community and growing tourism and visitor community, so in that sense, in the short or long term, Fort Worth is in a position to have more hotels,” said Jeanette Rice, principal and commercial real estate economist of Rice Consulting LLC, a Fort Worth-based consulting firm that monitors regional economic trends and market analysis for the commercial real estate industry. Downtown and the West Seventh Street corridor between University Drive and downtown show particular vitality and growth potential, Rice said.

“It’s clear that downtown has a tremendous vitality and continues to bring in people from outside even if it’s just weekend visitors from Dallas. From a business perspective or visitor perspective, downtown is still very attractive,” Rice said. Jameson agrees. Asked to name areas needing more hotels, he offered an immediate response. “The Stockyards area would suggest there is room for additional [hotel] inventory. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some development opportunities there,” he said. Hotels are a component of the recently-announced plan for new development in the Stockyards. Jameson also pointed to the Cultural District as a viable area. Such plans are under way, with a six-story hotel, an adjoining office building and parking garage planned to face Camp Bowie Boulevard across from the Modern Art Museum. Spearheading the 156-room hotel, the latest effort in expanding the 12-acre, multi-use Museum Place development, is TLC Urban LLC of Fort Worth. Several overnight-lodging options have opened nearby in recent years, including Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott on University Drive and Hilton Garden Center Fort Worth Medical Center on Forest Park Boulevard just south of Interstate 30. But there’s nothing near the museum district. City leaders hope that changes. “I think there is interest in looking at opportunities in the Cultural District, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some [hotel] development opportunities there,” Jameson said.