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Q&A: Eric Hahnfeld, chairman of the Historic Stockyards Design District Task Force

🕐 4 min read

Almost a year of public meetings, discussions and varying viewpoints came before the task force in charge of drafting design standards for the Fort Worth Stockyards redevelopment. In September, the group completed its task and will brief the City Council on Oct. 13.

In the coming months, a series of public hearings will be held with the Urban Design Commission, Zoning Commission and City Council before the parties take a final vote on proposed zoning changes for the Stockyards. The City Council is scheduled to vote Dec. 1.

Eric Hahnfeld, principal at architecture firm Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford, was appointed by the Fort Worth City Council as chair of the task force. He shared his thoughts on the drafting process with Fort Worth Business:

Looking back, what was the biggest thing you learned from being chair of the Stockyards design task force?

There was, for me, a lot of unexpected ‘passion’ from the community, land owners, business owners and historic preservation advocates. I wish I would have had a better understanding of the dynamics and history of the major land and business owners that make up the Stockyards. I think that could have helped me do a better job.

How well do you think these design standards preserve the historic integrity of the Stockyards?

I think the Stockyards Design Overlay District is a great start and allows protections to be put in place, where there were none, in a relatively short period of time, compared to, say, a form-based code or historic overlay. I heard time and time again from members of the task force and the community that the standards did not have enough ‘teeth,’ however, the other overlay districts within the city seem to be able to accomplish the desired goals and outcomes with similar standards and guidelines.

Thinking about the process itself, do you feel that the process was effective in representing the various viewpoints and also honoring the heritage of the Stockyards?

The task force, whoever assembled the members, put a lot of thought into making sure all points of view were represented. So to answer your question, I think most viewpoints were well represented. I also applaud the members of the community that showed up to not only the public meetings but to the task force meetings and were actively engaged in the process.

There were many different ideas and opinions to juggle regarding the Stockyards redevelopment. How well do you think those viewpoints were represented in the task force? Considering the differing opinions and obligations to maintain the historical integrity of the site, how were you able to handle the pressure, as well as the opposition?

There were many different opinions and viewpoints to juggle but that was handled thoroughly, by our consultant team of Randy Gideon, FAIA and Cassie King, landscape designer/urban planner of Ibanez Architecture. They collected comments from task force members, public at large, members of Historic Fort Worth and the Texas Historical Commission, just to name a few, and incorporated them into the various draft documents. The document went through numerous revisions, and I think the final document fairly embodies all opinions and viewpoints. Is this a perfect document? I would say no, but I believe it will achieve what the task force was asked to do in the City Council resolution, which established this Stockyards Design Overlay Task Force.

Drafting the design standards and guidelines was a long process, but the task force finally did it. How relieved do you feel now that it’s done?

As I think back over the 10-month process, there were times of frustration, especially regarding historic preservation issues. The Design Overlay is not the right tool to address the historic piece. With that said, I really enjoyed being together with all the members of the task force. They are an incredible group of people, most I did not know prior to being on this task force. We didn’t always agree but everyone stayed civil and all had the best interests of the Stockyards at heart. With all the meetings we had, again over 10 months, we almost always had 100 percent of the members present. That to me showed the level of commitment they had to developing the best document possible.”

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