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Monday, April 12, 2021

Landmarks Commission delays vote on Stockyards historic district

The Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission was supposed to vote on the Stockyards’ proposed historic district boundaries Monday, but after hearing differing viewpoints from parties both for and against the district, the commission decided to wait before making any decision.

The commission will hold a special meeting two weeks from now to discuss the historic boundary and whether or not the boundary will be expanded or reduced. The exact date of the meeting has not been determined.

“I’d just like for us to be real careful about how we do this because it will make a lot of difference for years to come,” commission member Randle Howard said.

In the two weeks prior to the commission’s special meeting, the commission asked Historic Fort Worth, Inc. to present additional information on what the historic district would look like if the boundary were extended. Historic Fort Worth, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve the city’s historic properties.

The organization’s preservation resource center manager, Kate Schwartz, showed the commission what the expanded boundary would look like. The revised district would extend to 22nd Street on the south, 27th Street on the north, Clinton Avenue on the west and the railroad on the east. This extension would include the former Swift and Co. plant, along with existing pens, scale houses, loading ramps and livestock runways.

“These industrial facilities are the very reason for the existence of the historic district,” Schwartz said. “Without these industrial facilities, the Stockyards commercial area loses its historic context that is comparable to many other downtown commercial areas in the United States. It is the Stockyard district without the Stockyards.”

While some echoed Schwartz’s sentiments, others were opposed. Brad Hickman, whose family is working with developer Majestic Realty to redevelop 70-acre section of the Stockyards, said the majority owners of Billy Bob’s Texas are concerned about being part of the historic district.

Because other entertainment venues like Bass Hall, Will Rogers Coliseum and the newly renovated Schollmaier Arena at TCU compete with Billy Bob’s, the honky-tonk plans to expand its concert facility, Hickman said. Billy Bob’s facility can currently has 1,900 seats.

A historic district would put limitations on Billy Bob’s expansion plans, Hickman said.

“I would hate for this historic overlay to be the thing that put Billy Bob’s Texas out of business,” he said. “That sounds drastic, and I know it is. But when you consider all the different venues people can go and have country and western entertainment and the new ones being built, we’re in a competitive, competitive business.”

Had the commission voted to approve the historic district, the Zoning Commission would have been next on schedule to hold a public hearing and vote on the district. The Zoning Commission’s vote would have taken place Feb. 10. However, with the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission vote delayed, the schedule may be extended.

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