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TCC coming to Downtown

Downtown Trinity River Vision Modern Architecture Construction Photographs Tarrant County

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#1 ghughes

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Posted 19 July 2004 - 10:22 PM

It's an idea that deserves our support
By Mitchell Schnurman
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Here's a better choice for a public gathering place: on a wide boardwalk on the north side of the Trinity, across from the TCC campus. Surrounded by retail and a converted power plant, it wouldn't have the traffic, noise and safety issues of the college's square in the central business district.
BING THOM ARCHITECTS

Here's a better choice for a public gathering place: on a wide boardwalk on the north side of the Trinity, across from the TCC campus. Surrounded by retail and a converted power plant, it wouldn't have the traffic, noise and safety issues of the college's square in the central business district.
Who's afraid of a little overhang? Here's the view under Belknap, walking from the river to the plaza. Detractors say that people won't go below ground level, but the design is open, airy and inviting. The benches in the shallow pool offer a place to cool off.

Which design concept for the TCC campus do you think is a better fit for downtown Fort Worth?
The sunken plaza design by Bing Thom The street-level proposal from Ed Bass
Your vote has been counted, thank you for voting.

Ed Bass is so determined to change the plaza design for the new Tarrant County College campus that he bankrolled a peer review, offered to rustle up money to buy the block, and even urged trustees to hire another architect to finish the job.

Enough, already. It's time to tell Bass no.

Not because he's so late to the game, and not because changes would mean more delays and expense.

TCC's board should reject the downtown developer's proposal on the merits. The original design by Vancouver architect Bing Thom is simply better, much better, than anything Bass and his consultants have offered up.

Thom's design for a campus entry does what it aims to do: dramatically and elegantly, it turns the Trinity River into a vital part of civic life downtown. That's design job No. 1.

It also recognizes that there are much better places for the kind of plaza that Bass wants to see, including in the middle of his Sundance Square district, about four blocks to the south.

Finally, the Thom design brings a bold new architecture and attitude to central Fort Worth, just when the city is trying to stretch beyond its traditional styles and borders.

So why hire a world-class architect to do a groundbreaking project and then change his design?

Thom was put on the defensive in mid-June, after Bass brought in a group of outsiders to review his plan -- months after construction began and after a 70-foot hole had been dug into the Trinity bluffs. The panel proposed scrapping Thom's entrance and installing a more traditional street-level plaza that could accommodate concerts, sporting events and the like.

That sounded reasonable; one of the critics said it was so obvious that the panel didn't even struggle with recommending an overhaul.

But at a public hearing last week, Thom explained his design in more detail, showed slides and responded to the consultants' suggestions. In my view, the arguments for sticking with the original design were overwhelming.

No. 1: It's all about the river

Thom's vision for redevelopment along the Trinity has become an inspiration to local leaders and residents, and it's behind the sweeping plan to revitalize the city's north side.

The river was neglected for years, but Thom saw it as a great underutilitized asset that could be turned into a focal point. That idea was the genesis of the Trinity River Vision, which helped attract the riverfront headquarters of RadioShack and Pier 1 Imports.

It was also the deciding factor in TCC putting a new campus on both sides of the Trinity, literally and figuratively linking two disparate parts of the community.

The plaza being challenged is on the south side of the river, next to the central business district. In addition to being a grand entrance, Thom designed the space so it would draw visitors down to the river -- and bring the river into downtown.

To make it work without relying on elevators and escalators, Thom stretched the walkway from Weatherford to the pedestrian bridge, with a series of descending steps that will take visitors under Belknap.

The slope is gentle enough to be navigated by pedestrians and moms with strollers.

Detractors argue that people won't walk down into anything, especially a sunken plaza that goes beneath a three-lane street like Belknap. But look at Thom's illustrations of the walkway: the spaces are large, airy and bright.

They're inviting, not intimidating. There are places to stop and linger, with benches built into a shallow pool that runs parallel to the walkway.

Who couldn't imagine students and visitors cooling off there?

The open space under Belknap is 60 feet by 60 feet and 24 feet high, and bathed in sunshine at both ends.

"It will be a very pleasant connection," Thom said at the TCC hearing, comparing crossing under Belknap to threading a needle.

Last month, Bass' experts put together two other approaches for the campus entrance, and Thom showed what they would look like to visitors. The views weren't even comparable.

"You don't have a sense of the river," Thom told the audience.

And isn't that the idea?

No. 2: There are much better places for a public plaza

In its strategic action plans in 1983, 1993 and 2003, Fort Worth identified its ideal location for a central plaza: a couple of city blocks, now covered with parking lots, in the middle of Sundance Square.

The city regularly uses this location at Third and Main for concerts, holiday programs, even boxing matches. It's surrounded by restaurants and stores, and there's a lot of foot traffic, nice oak trees and the Chisholm Trail mural.

The adjacent roads generally have limited, slow-moving traffic, and drivers are accustomed to pedestrians.

About four blocks to the north is the TCC plaza site. Thom's team said it didn't make sense to design a public square that competed with such a great location in Sundance.

The central plaza hasn't been built, because the Bass family doesn't own all the land on the two blocks. The other owners have resisted selling, but ultimately the space seems destined for that use.

Thom envisions a second major public square on the north side of the Trinity, next to the vacant TXU plant. That's across the street from TCC's north campus, and Thom's vision is reminiscent of a great gathering spot in Vancouver.

Thom wants it to be built on a wide boardwalk along the water, and he sees it as another potential world-class plaza, on a par with the Sundance plans.

As a gathering spot, TCC's entry plaza could never rival those two locations. It doesn't have the next-door retail and, much worse, it's surrounded by busy roads.

Belknap and Weatherford, the city's key east-west arteries to Interstate 35W and Texas 121, are adjacent to the plaza site. They're almost always crowded, and they're jammed during rush hour. Commerce, which feeds into North Main and is a key passage to the north side, abuts the western edge of the block.

Traffic, noise and safety issues make the area much less attractive for a street-level plaza. In that setting, isn't it better to step down from the street, away from the cars, and enter a protected space that leads to the river?

That's what Thom's design tries to do.

No. 3. Trust your architect, and celebrate the differences

Near the end of TCC's hearing last week, a speaker urged trustees to stay with Thom's design.

He said that changing plans and adding a new architect would only add more delays and costs, and probably create more dissent anyway.

Some people like Rembrandt, he said, and some like Picasso.

Thom offered a similar take, saying that each architect brings his own approach, analysis and attitude. One isn't necessarily right and the other wrong.

Bass usually taps architect David Schwarz, whose downtown Fort Worth designs look like the classic architecture of decades ago. They fit quite well into Sundance Square's Western look, but Thom's bold, contemporary design for the college is a wonderful contrast.

Bass' idea of a public plaza -- a parklike setting with lawn and trees, and places to eat and gather -- would be right at home in the middle of Sundance.

But why not embrace an entirely different experience with the TCC space, just blocks away?

As a kid, remember the feeling of walking down a hilly woods toward a river? The way you descend gradually, passing trees and moving through patches of shade and sunlight? As the noise fades and the temperature drops slightly, you can glimpse the water -- and feel the thrill.

Thom is trying to re-create that mystery and surprise in an urban setting, surrounded by skyscrapers, busy workers and lots of traffic.

Some people may have a different idea about how to maximize the space, and that's fine.

But Fort Worth is big enough for more than one vision, more than one architect and more than one kind of plaza. We'll all be richer for it.

#2 mosteijn

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 12:23 PM

:mad: YAY! We should be hearing something in September or October then. I'm not sure the whole "form follows function" will lead to an architectural masterpiece, but the whole presence of TCC will do good things for downtown. Well, here's to my mom's future workplace (I hope). They will probably have a library, right?

#3 AdamB

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 02:54 PM

:D YAY! We should be hearing something in September or October then. I'm not sure the whole "form follows function" will lead to an architectural masterpiece, but the whole presence of TCC will do good things for downtown. Well, here's to my mom's future workplace (I hope). They will probably have a library, right?

It aint a major university but it will do for now! B)

I like this, anything to increase pedestrian traffic downtown.

#4 gcarey

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Posted 20 July 2004 - 05:40 PM

Good news. Hopefully it will generate more pedestrian traffic than El Centro does in downtown Dallas.

#5 JBB

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 08:27 PM

Great news on the TCC front. I hope the smaller acreage leads to a more vertical urban campus.

Posted on Sat, Aug. 21, 2004


TCC buys five downtown blocks

By Sandra Baker

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


FORT WORTH - Tarrant County College has bought almost five city blocks downtown, as it gathers land for a campus near the county courthouse.

The community college paid about $10.25 million for 6.75 acres, including the site of Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices. Other small businesses are on the sites, as well as parking lots and some vacant tracts.

Downtown land typically sells for $30 to $80 per square foot. TCC paid on the lower end of that range, averaging $34.84. About five of the acres were sold by Fine Line Diversified Realty, a real estate entity of Fort Worth financier Ed Bass, according to county deed records.

TCC has said little about where its new campus will go. Earlier this year, the Star-Telegram reported that the college was considering two high-profile locations along the Trinity River, including the site of the former TXU Energy power plant north of the courthouse.

It is not known whether the newly acquired land, southeast of the courthouse, will be used for a campus, for parking or for other uses.

TCC began collecting tax dollars for a downtown location more than two years ago, and officials have said it has more than $50 million in its coffers.

TCC officials declined Friday to talk about the recent land purchases or a possible design for the new campus while it negotiates for land. The campus is expected to serve the central part of the county.

On June 10, Fine Line Diversified sold the college land between Belknap and Bluff streets at an area overlooking the Trinity River, according to county deed records.

TCC reportedly is considering connecting the bluff property to riverfront property.

According to county deeds, the college in June and July bought property on five city blocks -- primarily along Bluff and Belknap streets, between Calhoun and Pecan streets. It has also acquired parcels between Calhoun and Jones streets south of Belknap Street along Weatherford Street, the deeds show.

The other sellers include David Lock, owner of Leonard's Farm and Ranch store, and FW Corkline Development, which owns the land where the well-known Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices, downtown Fort Worth's oldest retailer, is located. The site of the Leonard's store was sold earlier this summer.

Pat Haggerty, president of the 134-year-old Pendery's at 304 E. Belknap St., said he has one year to find a new location. Lock recently said he has about a year to be gone from his property at 501 E. Belknap St.

Pendery's has been on Belknap Street since the early 1900s and at its current 1,200-square-foot location since 1961. It opened on Belknap Street in 1906 after moving from the nearby area of downtown once called Hell's Half Acre.

The company is now operated by the fifth generation of the family.

Haggerty said that it will be difficult to move but that he hopes to remain downtown. "We're looking at everything we can find. Customers are funny, they get used to you being right there. I worry that people won't find us."

He said Pendery's sold most of its downtown property in 1998 to FW Corkline Development, including its Belknap Street location. FW Corkline Development is headed by David Corrigan of Corrigan Investments in Dallas.

Corrigan declined to comment on the sale to Tarrant County College, citing a confidentiality agreement.

TCC recently backed out of a contract to buy 26 acres on the bluffs along Samuels Avenue. That property is being developed as the Trinity Bluff housing, retail and office development.

If part of TCC's campus is built on Belknap Street, no structures will be higher than about seven stories.

According to the deed filed in the sale of Fine Line's property, the college agreed that property within 50 feet of Belknap Street frontage will not exceed 72 feet and that any other buildings built on the remainder of the property cannot exceed 90 feet.

Deeds filed in the sales by FW Corkline and Lock do not have similar restrictions.

#6 ghughes

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 09:56 PM

Are the height restrictions associated with Courthouse views?

#7 JBB

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 10:19 PM

That comment wasn't in the original article that I saw online last night. I'm guessing that's the reason, even though I'm starting to come around on the thought that the idea of preserving courthouse views is ridiculous. I can understand keeping the view from the north, but you really can't see it from any of the other angle anyway. Who cares how good a view you get of while whizzing by on 35 or exiting 121 to Belknap? Even with the 72 and 90 foot restrictions, we should still see buildings taller than their traditional suburban campuses.

#8 mosteijn

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 10:19 PM

I'm sure. Although they let the jail buildings get built directly blocking the courthouse from many angles for some odd reason.

Also, the map in the paper looked strange, with the properties purchased being shaped like an L. That would be a pretty hard campus to design so that students can get from one end to the other semi-quickly.

#9 John T Roberts

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Posted 21 August 2004 - 10:48 PM

Everyone, I do believe there are some height restrictions to preserve views of the Courthouse. The reason they were established was due to taller buildings (some of which were built by the county) blocking vistas of the dome. Personally, I think it is important to see the dome when you are exiting to Belknap from I-35.

Look what has happened in Austin. When there was a height restriction on the buildings, the skyline was rather uninteresting. With the Frost Bank Tower, the skyline has a signature building and some character. However, some of the sightlines to the Capitol were not preserved and in some places, you can't even see the dome. These locations are heading northbound on I-35 from the south side of town. I think it is important to preserve views of our Courthouse.

#10 renamerusk

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 07:28 AM

:?: Before this TCC thing gets going too far down the track, I have not gotten a real feeling about why there needs to be a major campus located in downtown. Who is TCC intending to serve by this campus? If TCC plans to offer medical related training and accreditation, then would it make greater sense to place a satellite campus in the Medical District? If TCC plans to offer office management and administrative career training and accreditation, then I suggest that there is adequate space available in one or two more existing structures which are located within the heart of the downtown area.

In my humble opinion, I think TCC is simply trying to cash in on the tremendous synergy which is Downtown Fort Worth which is on the face admirable. However, I do think that the public should be scrutinize the TCC Vision before it plops itseld down next to our Historic courthouse and become a magnet for the preservationinst insensitive fast food chains and the likes which will soon follow any campus teeming with hungry students. I suggest that downtown is not the place for teaching auto mechanics, basket weaving or the likes.

#11 RD Milhollin

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 09:26 AM

Greetings Rusk (Commerce)

Take a look at the online catalog for TCC, it's not the same old junior college you may remember. In addition to the college basics (English, History...) it is thick with technology classes, computer based mainly. It is now of course Tarrant COunty College, not Junior anymore. They have a four-year program in place, although I can't remember which one it is (nursing?). I rember seeing in the ST recently that they were going to offer a program in Network (design, engineering, whatever you do with networks) that many universities don't offer.

If downtown is to continue to be a significant magnet to companies who have young, upward-moving junior managers looking for ways to get moved upstairs, continuing education available close by is a definite selling point. Besides, if TCJC can evolve into TCC, who is to say that it might not be the seed of a future U. of FW?

Keep up the good work TCC. Good luck downtown (just do it right!) Woof!

Pup

#12 renamerusk

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 11:00 AM

Sure, I would agree that TCC would perform a vital function providing those already employed and working in downtown to have access to classes which would further advance their careers. I think that it would be appropriate for TCC to be downtown to provide training for the businesses and their employees who are located downtown because of the nature of their products or services. I simply think that a micro/satellite campus specifically oriented to the needs of the downtown businesses is preferable to a full scale campus as I feel is being comtemplated. As for the nursing program, again, it would make more logistical sense to me to locate a micro/satellite campus in the medical district and not locate it at the northeast end of downtown. In my opinion, TCC could be more dispersed within the region, perhaps locating a Home Economics School/Restaurant/Hospitality School in the Stockyard Area & int the Arlington entertainment district, for instance; an Art School in the Cultural District; and a Transportation/Industrial School near the Alliance Area.

Though I do not have any supportable evidence to support my intuition, I sense that this TCC downtown campus is more about a land deal and having a nice piece of property in the heart of a revitalized downtown than TCC meeting the needs of the dispersed employment centers of the city and the training of their workers. I was puzzled, as I suspect some of you may have been, with the Trinity Bluffs/TCC
saga.

#13 ghughes

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 06:08 PM

There seem to be two perspectives on TCC opening downtown: the educational and the downtown environment. I think both aspects would be served by more information from TCC, although perhaps a lot of it is there already.

For example, what part of TCC's strategic vision does the downtown campus relate to? What part of their charter is not met without this campus? I don't know the answers, but that correlation is probably available with appropriate research.

And as to the urban environment, that, too, would be better understood if TCC issued concept statements or something. I haven't gotten much from private inquiries except a general acknowledgement that my concerns in that area are valid and that the TCC leadership is cognizant. But who knows where that's headed? More public involvement in the process would help.

All that said, I am glad to see TCC going downtown. It will further diversify the mix of activities there which in turn will broaden the support for a lively downtown. And without our lively downtown, Fort Worth would become just another mid-sized city.

#14 RD Milhollin

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 08:05 PM

Greg,

The only reason I mention this is that I don't remember it being said already: In addition to classrooms, labs, and other educational facilities, a downtown campus would most likely house the administrative offices currently in the May Owen Building, soon to be replaced by Lancaster-Hotel zone development.

Pup

#15 Buck

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 08:26 PM

To see how colleges bring vitality to downtowns, take at look at the University of Houston-Downtown.

According to the school paper, UTA-Fort Worth has announced a $20 million, 115,000sf campus downtown. I bet that's part of the TCC land deal.

http://www.theshorth...n042004-02.html

#16 Brian Luenser

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 08:37 PM

I am following you, renamerusk:
I do wonder if locating in the center of downtown is doing the Tarrant County taxpayers right. I sure bet there is some existing space in the near downtown area that would suffice. (Maybe that should have been the use of the Montgomery Ward building.) At a minimum, it's a big choice. It is true that Dallas has a Junior college downtown. But that doesn't mean they did the Dallas County taxpayers right either.

#17 mosteijn

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 08:56 PM

To see how colleges bring vitality to downtowns, take at look at the University of Houston-Downtown.

According to the school paper, UTA-Fort Worth has announced a $20 million, 115,000sf campus downtown. I bet that's part of the TCC land deal.

http://www.theshorth...n042004-02.html

Wow, I actually hope this new UTA campus is not part of the TCC deal. Could you imagine, two separate 4 year colleges in downtown??? That will definately add stability and activity. And beleive me, it looks really good on the attracting companies front.

I'm anxiously awaiting designs.

#18 mosteijn

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 08:58 PM

There seem to be two perspectives on TCC opening downtown: the educational and the downtown environment. I think both aspects would be served by more information from TCC, although perhaps a lot of it is there already.

For example, what part of TCC's strategic vision does the downtown campus relate to? What part of their charter is not met without this campus? I don't know the answers, but that correlation is probably available with appropriate research.

And as to the urban environment, that, too, would be better understood if TCC issued concept statements or something. I haven't gotten much from private inquiries except a general acknowledgement that my concerns in that area are valid and that the TCC leadership is cognizant. But who knows where that's headed? More public involvement in the process would help.

All that said, I am glad to see TCC going downtown. It will further diversify the mix of activities there which in turn will broaden the support for a lively downtown. And without our lively downtown, Fort Worth would become just another mid-sized city.

Sorry to get off topic, but congradulations on your 1000th post, Greg!

#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 August 2004 - 09:19 PM

Buck, thanks for the link.

Greg, congratulations. You are the first besides myself to break 1000. Dismuke looks like he will be the next one to cross the 1000 mark.

#20 redhead

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 08:28 AM

TCC has a history of some crossover courses with UTA, so I find this very interesting, especially in light of DeVry making a similar announcement. Devry has already leased space and if I recall correctly, will be open for business downtown very soon. I think the land cost may throw a monkeywrench in UTA's direction, however, as TCC has effectively driven up the price of downtown dirt.

As for TCC making the process more public, I think their elected trustees are doing their job as they see it. Once the determination was made that there would be a downtown campus, I do not believe that they feel the public needs to have any more input---they are doing what is best for the money. You really have to hand it to Dr. DelaGarza, he has managed the "pay as you go" finances of TCC very, very well. Maybe we should contact him about FWISD?

#21 normanfd

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 07:14 PM

Johnny mentioned that the properties being purchased are shaped like an L according to a map in the paper. The S-T didn't put a map with the website article. Since I don't have access to the print edition, could someone describe the location of the 5 blocks?

#22 mosteijn

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 07:40 PM

Here's the map in the paper:

Posted Image

Isn't the block furthest south the location of the Tarrant County Parking Garage?

#23 ghughes

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 08:48 PM

Wow! My 1k!

I want to thank all the little people that made it possible: My mom, for telling me tales of her fights about zoning in the '50's. Sister Mary Laticia (Sisters of Mercy), for trying to beat discipline into me the way only a 250 pound nun can. And, not least, the people of Detroit, for showing me how a thriving city can self-destruct, even when it has some of the best folks around!

As to Dismuke, I think the SIZE of his posts brings him into the fore. :?:

#24 John T Roberts

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 09:00 PM

Isn't the block furthest south the location of the Tarrant County Parking Garage?

Yes, it is. Maybe there is an error in the Star-Telegram.

#25 ghughes

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 09:07 PM

Mrs. ghughes and I visited Savannah a few weeks back and learned about the Savannah College of Art and Design. Well, a little bit. The school operates throughout downtown Savannah and the thousands of students enliven the city center.
http://www.scad.edu/

I don't think we will see the same impact, but a UTA, TCC, DeVry combination will be of great benefit to downtown Fort Worth.

#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 09:09 PM

Greg, what do you think of Savannah? I guess that really should be in another thread.

#27 mosteijn

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Posted 23 August 2004 - 09:26 PM

Isn't the block furthest south the location of the Tarrant County Parking Garage?

Yes, it is. Maybe there is an error in the Star-Telegram.

That's what I was thinking too. Perhaps it's the same shape, only shifted a block over?

Greg, did you take pictures of Savannah, per chance? :?:

#28 normanfd

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 12:13 AM

Previously, it seemed TCC was considering expanding and connecting its holdings west of the courthouse with the old TXU power plant using a pedestrian bridge over the Trinity. Does this new property acquisition mean a complete change in the gameplan?

#29 ghughes

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 05:20 AM

Johnny wrote:

Greg, did you take pictures of Savannah, per chance?

I only took a few (just there for an afternoon). I've posted them over at: Savannah Topic

#30 fwpcman

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 01:46 PM

I was thinking that this would be the general area where the new Civil Courts Building would be located. Has that not been decided? I can't wait to see the current one come down.

#31 mosteijn

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 03:59 PM

The plan was to have the Civil Courts building on the block due NE of the couthouse. It's not final at all, so the ultimate location may change.

#32 RD Milhollin

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Posted 24 August 2004 - 05:27 PM

Given the location (approximate, give or take a block) of the new TCC property, and the as yet unconfirmed plans for the new Civil Courts Building, perhaps TCC and UTA are going in cahoots to put in another LAW SCHOOL in downtown Fort Worth!

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#33 Urbndwlr

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Posted 25 August 2004 - 11:15 PM

I hope TCC leaves the street grid in place and doesn't create superblocks. I'm sure there will be great temptation to close streets as it could save them $ in construction costs by increasing the buildable land and allow them to build larger floor plates.

Who is the architect working on that deal?

#34 Dismuke

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 12:23 AM

Greg, congratulations.  You are the first besides myself to break 1000.  Dismuke looks like he will be the next one to cross the 1000 mark.

Hmmmm. Well, he may be ahead of me in the number of postings. But if you were to count the cumulative number of words in all of our respective postings, I'll bet that I'm way ahead! :smwink:
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#35 normanfd

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 01:14 AM

<SPAN class="humor">Dismuke, if verbose postings were an athletic event, I'm sure Athens would have given you the international gold medal.</SPAN>

#36 ghughes

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 05:03 AM

Dismuke, did you miss my earlier honoring of your verbal volume?:

As to Dismuke, I think the SIZE of his posts brings him into the fore.  :swg:


As to the topic at hand, we certainly need to keep the existing blocks. It would take a lot of traffic study and city action to allow anything to be closed, but sometimes there are successful attempts to blow through the formalities of process... :smwink:

I have communicated with a TCC Board member about the value of urban design and the hope for street-level retail and/or commercial spaces. I received encouraging replies (although nothing specific or promised).

#37 mosteijn

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Posted 26 August 2004 - 04:54 PM

I have communicated with a TCC Board member about the value of urban design and the hope for street-level retail and/or commercial spaces. I received encouraging replies (although nothing specific or promised).

:smwink: That sounds appetizing. I'm sure the influx of new residents to the "uptown" area will be able to support a lot of retail, not to mention the daily flow of college students (can anyone say 2nd downtown Starbucks? lol).

#38 cberen1

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 01:06 PM

Given the location (approximate, give or take a block) of the new TCC property, and the as yet unconfirmed plans for the new Civil Courts Building, perhaps TCC and UTA are going in cahoots to put in another LAW SCHOOL in downtown Fort Worth!

Woof Woof Woof!
Pup

As I understand it, the legal community is putting things in place to reduce the total number of law schools in the country. No new charters are being issued and failing law schools will not likely be replaced. That might just be rumor, but I've not heard anything to contradict it. It is supposedly one of the reasons that TCU was so interested in purchasing the Wesleyan law school. Absent a purchase, they would not be able to get a law school brought into the fold.

That said, it would be neat if Wesleyan moved over closer to the courthouses. But, I believe they have purchased their building and are in the process of adding classroms in the vacated IRS space on the second floor.

#39 mosteijn

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Posted 28 August 2004 - 10:57 AM

Well appearently it's got funding now. I don't think there's any stopping it!

TCC plans to build downtown campus

By Matt Frazier

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


Tarrant County College hopes to open a campus on the north side of downtown Fort Worth in the fall of 2007, college officials said.

Trustees agreed Thursday to set aside $33 million to build the campus, which would cover about 500,000 square feet and ultimately cost about $100 million.

"We are calling it the downtown campus," said Bill Lace, executive assistant to the chancellor. "But we are still in negotiations for other land, so we don't know exactly where it will be. We hope to have everything ready for an announcement in mid-October."

TCC recently paid about $10.25 million for almost five city blocks -- 6.75 acres -- downtown near the Tarrant County Courthouse.

The land is primarily along Bluff and Belknap streets between Calhoun and Pecan streets. The college has also acquired parcels between Calhoun and Jones streets south of Belknap Street along Weatherford Street, the deeds show.

Chancellor Leonardo De La Garza has said that the new campus will include classes in continuing education, career and technical programs, and college-credit courses that will transfer to four-year universities.

#40 Thurman52

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Posted 28 August 2004 - 12:04 PM

500, 000 Sq Ft is a good size campus, but suspect the initial development will be smaller with a fairly large parking garage for future expansion. I don’t see any large mid-rises but a collection of 3-4 story buildings with a decent ground level to make it feel more like a campus.

I only hope there is significant public input into the design and parking, I fear sees of surface lots with “promise to develop those at a later date”. The added students will benefit downtown and business with a cheap resource to enhance the workforce with quality training.

I say Hooray for TCC and the Downtown Campus!

#41 renamerusk

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Posted 29 August 2004 - 09:28 AM

Quite frankly, I seldom read the S-T, but something did get my attention yesterday; specifically, the poor ranking of TCC among public colleges with respect to its funding. I have attempted enrollment into some of its medical training classes and have been unable to enroll because of a lack of teachers and facilities; and yet the TCC has proposed to build a campus downtown which so far this one individual has not been convinced is necessary. Downtown is and has been doing quite well without a college campus; TCC was not designed to be a catalyst for economic development in Downtown FW; I believe it was designed to educate and train the people of Tarrant County. There is already ample space downtown for an effective fudiciary training facility for downtown's office workers; the STS Tower (Houston @5th) comes immediately to mind. I hope that this TCC bandwagon to build a new downtown campus is completely vetted out and that some serious questions are raised and addressed before the train leaves the station.

#42 mosteijn

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Posted 29 August 2004 - 10:09 AM

If the new campus has extensions of current programs, wouldn't that increase the number of teachers/classrooms, while at the same time providing more opportunities for people not currently interested by the courses TCC has to offer? It's basically like adding on classrooms or expanding hiring at each of the other 4 campuses...only in a new building centrally located to everyone. I think it'll work out well for TCC.

Appearantly, TCC is pushing forward with the campus straddling the river idea, so the recent purchase of all those downtown parcels will only be about half of the space for the campus. They're going to purchase land on the north side of the Trinity soon. Our family friend has a somewhat high-level job at TCC, so I'll keep you all posted if I find out anything new.

#43 renamerusk

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Posted 29 August 2004 - 11:25 AM

If indeed the rumor is true that the TCC Board is buying land north of the Trinity River, then this bears much more scrutiny by the public. This board is apparently gobbling up land akin of a "drunken sailor". When and how does the public get an opportunity to have its say about this project. Speaking for myself, I am having a difficult time comprehending TCC's overall plans and land deals; what I do hear is that we are to trust their judgment for they know best.

I am concerned that the board is not spending the public's money where it will do the best good; ie the training of support staff at the widely dispersed employment centers in the county. TCC ought to satisfactorily address the issues that have been raised in recent days about the quality of its programs v. the money it takes in. While it is sexy to dream about a downtown college campus, TCC should be less in the business of real estate and brick and mortar and more into delivering the services which it is mandated to do. With a sufficient effort, TCC's board could find existing space nearer to the multiple emploment centers which would both meet its need as well as be more convenient to these centers of employment in the county. Granted, downtown is a center of employment, but also the Alliance/Solana, Arlington/360 corridor, Medical District are areas too. Downtown does have existing space which could be turned into a technology/office skills learning centers as is being proven by private training companies which are being planned for downtown (DeVry; CTI). This can also be said about the medical district and Arlington entertaiment district.

#44 redhead

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Posted 30 August 2004 - 09:08 AM

Sorry to bear bad news, Renamerusk, but the train has left the building. I repeat, the train has left the building.

A few years back when the additional tax was put in place to raise funds for the downtown campus, permission was given to TCC to move forward. Whether we think this process should have more public input does not matter if the power to make those decisions is vested in their board. From what I glean from those close to the project, they are getting very good advice from an architectural firm known for very dense, well-designed urban projects. At least give the college credit for working with good consultants!

As for the "superblock" issue, one may recall several years ago Post Properties made a run at the Bass property on Bluff. The plan called for the abandonment of Bluff Street to the west of Jones, I think. That was granted provisionally, but I seem to recall that the permit using the street must be issued by May of 05. If that is true, the college will have to have the plans already in the the works I would suppose. According to the article they will be ready to show their hand in October. I, for one, certainly will be anxious to see what they have been so secretive about holding from the public's scrutiny!

#45 Buck

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 07:48 PM

TCC is more than just a technical school.

As tuition has gone up and state colleges are tougher to get into, the junior colleges now see a lot more liberal arts students.

I think I saw some numbers lately about TCC enrolling more than half liberal arts students for the first time, or something like that.

Either way, TCC will be the higher-education centerpiece of downtown. We need to think of it as something more than a technical school.

#46 renamerusk

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 09:37 PM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?

#47 mosteijn

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 05:35 PM

Question?  Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?

Does Fort Worth really need anything? You can't deny that a higher number of educated people looks good to companies looking to relocate/expand. This could be a key selling point in getting them to choose downtown over the suburbs. So I say while it's not entirely necessary, it's definately going to boost downtown's success, and that's always a good thing, necessary or not.

#48 Urbndwlr

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 12:02 AM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?


Answer: Yes. It would benefit the city to have a greater share of the population with a solid, well-rounded education. A greater number of students downtown each day should help further increase the share of young people downtown and build on the existing vitality here.

#49 normanfd

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 01:03 AM

Question? Does downtown Fort Worth need more liberal arts students?

<SARCASM>No we don't. El Paso has demonstrated how a city can exist with a poorly educated population.</SARCASM>

#50 Shocker

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 07:04 PM

Right on. Very well said normanfd.





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