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Central Tourism District

Redefinding the CBD

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#51 renamerusk

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 09:32 PM

 

#1 - People can and do live downtown for reasons other than proximity to employment.  And that completely misses the point.  People currently do live downtown because of its proximity to their jobs.....


#2 - It doesn't particularly matter to retailers and entertainment venues whether their customers own or rent - they are more than happy to take anybody's money.....

Again, all of this misses the point.  Where rent verses own is relevant in this context is not how people spend their money but the degree of people's mobility and thus their stability in terms of how long they tend to stay in one place.  


#3 - And, by the way, one of the potential pitfalls of an area having a high concentration of renters - even if they are high end renters - is the area can go into a downward spiral very quickly if it falls out of favor. .....


#4 - If the downtown Fort Worth housing loses an important portion of its current market then either new markets must be found or downtown Fort Worth will undergo some not necessarily pleasant changes.

 

#1 - Its gratifying to see you that you have come to acknowledge that "people can and do live downtown for reasons other than proximity to employment"; but disappointing that you emphasize that employment is the why the do.   Instead the emphasis of employment over other reasons is still a continuation of a double standard.  A number of reasons is why Downtown can be viable in the future; just not the employment reason alone.

 

#2 - Again its gratifying to see you acknowledge that who spends in Downtown is irrelevant to the Downtown merchants. It is probably accurate to suggest that the bulk of spending done in Downtown is by people who do not live Downtown; and that among those people who spend in Downtown will be found both renters and home owners.  The point is not who is spending, but it is the spending is taking place. Your attempt to tie consumerism and housing is irrelevant in this market as it is any markets in general.

 

#3 - Isn't that the point.  Traditional CBD businesses are in the end renters or leasers in the market and conceptually they are no different than residential tenants with the exception that residential tenants are a 7 day consumers base while businesses are 5 day consumers.  As you suggested, "the area can go into a downward spiral very quickly if it [Downtown] falls out of favor". Well, isn't that also the point  whenr Downtown has just recently experienced a "hit" from the falling out of favor of Downtown by D.R. Horton and XTO?   If one argues ,first, that a certain type of business is better than another type of business by declaring one to be superior over the other; and mandates , secondly, that the superior business is the primary means to  have a sustainable Downtown, then we disagree.  Once again mandating for Downtown to be solely if not primarily a high end job center to be consider sustainable neighborhood while other so call sustainable neighborhoods do not have a similar mandate is clearly a double standard.  By the way, it is the level of activity that is important, not its status.

 

#4 - Finally, we agree without controversy!  This exercise has been an effort to discuss what new market can be created in the Downtown.  Opinions have ranged from recruiting traditional businesses back to the CBD as if the City has any true leverage on how businesses make their workplace decisions.  There has been reluctance to admit that Downtown is but one of two legacy CBDs in the region; and as it painful to admit as well as necessary to admit, one of the two legacy CBD is vastly outperforming the other.  How then does Downtown make itself a sustainable place against the headwinds of business decisions and a very strong competitor - Dallas/Collins?

 

The opinion that the status quo is working and will work in the future seems questionable to me. Instead, evolving the CBD into a place of Residential/Entertainment/Hospitality (REH) that is a place of equal or of greater mix than the traditional job center of the past is an option I like much better.

 

If this evolution can be created, it should not matter whether the activity is of a certain character. What should matter is that Downtown would be teeming with shoppers, residents, tourists and sources of entertainment stemming from hotels, apartments and conventions; and that most of all, Downtown would be sustaining itself in spite of and weaning itself from the vagaries of today's businesses.



#52 Dismuke

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 03:08 PM

Bud Kennedy proposes something a little different. Central Education District?

http://amp.star-tele...e159270849.html

 

I wonder if there are any colleges looking to perhaps relocate to a more vibrant area.  Wouldn't it be neat for a college to go into some or all of the historic buildings XTO is vacating?  There certainly are colleges that are located in urban buildings that had previous uses.  The article mentions colleges in Boston. One of those is Emerson College which is located in various older buildings - including two very historic theaters that the college has restored.  And New York City's 10 story Asch Building built in 1900 and the scene of the horrific and infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire which killed 146 people has been part of the New York University campus since about 1916. (I checked the building out once when I was in New York though was not able to go inside. It was very creepy standing there remembering the photos of I had seen of bodies on the same sidewalks decades earlier. I can't imagine going to class on the floors where it all happened without thinking about it)

 

Given the layout of XTO's buildings, one could easily include a few floors of dorm rooms.

 

My guess is that there probably aren't all that many colleges looking to move - and I have no idea of how the cost of buying the buildings would compare to other options for a campus.   But it would nevertheless be cool.


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#53 renamerusk

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 10:34 PM

A state university's graduate school would really enhance the City.

 

The University of Texas and the Texas A&M University have campuses in the four largest metropolitan areas. Texas Tech University does not.  

 

Fort Worth could approach Tech and the Legislature about opening a graduate school(s) here. Aside for its main campus in Lubbock, Tech has a presence in El Paso and San Angelo.  It is a long shot and very problematic, but the T&P Warehouse, refurbished and modernized could be a great site for Texas Tech.



#54 renamerusk

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 02:22 PM

 No, this is not happening in Downtown or is it happening in the other legacy downtown in North Texas!

5960060c0f601.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C67

 

Pioneer Natural Resources New Corporate Headquarters, 2019

 

But I think that this epitomizes and cross references several story angles currently or recently being discussed in The Forum.

 

#1 - Corporations are continuing to decide to have their offices in the suburbs, in this case Irving, Texas.

 

#2 - a robust, business concentrated downtown like Dallas' was not selected

 

#3 - corporations ask for and receive tax incentives, $6,000,000 for this company

 

#4 -  1,250,000 sqft of new class A office space; the amount of speculative Class A offering in the Perot/Hillwood Cylinder Tower; a tower in search of a major tenant.

 

Just more food for thought about the direction Downtown Fort Worth should be taking to survive.



#55 BlueMound

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 02:40 PM

 No, this is not happening in Downtown or is it happening in the other legacy downtown in North Texas!

5960060c0f601.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C67

 

Pioneer Natural Resources New Corporate Headquarters, 2019

 

But I think that this epitomizes and cross references several story angles currently or recently being discussed in The Forum.

 

#1 - Corporations are continuing to decide to have their offices in the suburbs, in this case Irving, Texas.

 

#2 - a robust, business concentrated downtown like Dallas' was not selected

 

#3 - corporations ask for and receive tax incentives, $6,000,000 for this company

 

#4 -  1,250,000 sqft of new class A office space; the amount of speculative Class A offering in the Perot/Hillwood Cylinder Tower; a tower in search of a major tenant.

 

Just more food for thought about the direction Downtown Fort Worth should be taking to survive.

 

All good points.

Both Acme Brick and Smith and Nephew decided to build buildings in ClearFork, not downtown FW.



#56 PeopleAreStrange

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 09:39 PM

#1- Unfortunately, that's the trend here in Texas. However, companies are leaving suburbia for urban cores elsewhere around the country.

 

#2- Yep.

 

#3- We offer tax incentives for companies willing to relocate within Loop 820.

 

#4- Sure would be nice if someone were willing to propose a speculative office tower here!

_____________

 

As much as I would like to see companies come downtown, I'm thinking it may be time to rethink the Loop 820 tax incentive rule. A sprawling suburban campus outside of Loop 820 (but in Fort Worth) would be less bad than losing companies to suburban Dallas. Office employment is not keeping up with population growth on this side of the metroplex.

 

That said, Downtown Fort Worth still needs more office space.


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#57 gdvanc

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 05:14 PM

Renamerusk is right about companies choosing sprawling suburban campuses over urban offices... here in Texas.

 

However, in other states, companies like McDonald's are leaving suburbs for urban cores.

 

https://www.nytimes....-city.html?_r=0

 

It's frusturating that the national trend seems to be the exact opposite here.

 

Companies deciding where to locate a facility - headquarters, regional operations, whatever - make a decision based on a number of factors. Texas has a few suburban areas (particularly the suburbs north of Dallas and some outside of Houston and Austin) with relatively low land prices, a large supply of skilled and educated workers, easy access to a major airport, good schools, etc. Texas also has a more pro-business economic climate than many other states. This is why Texas suburbs continue to win new campuses; this can give the impression that suburban campuses are all that's happening here.

 

However, Texas does also enjoy some growth in and near its downtowns. Why does Fort Worth seem so unsuccessful in that regard?

 

From what I've read, there are two main reasons why some companies are moving back to the urbs: strategy and workforce.

 

Strategy: The 'strategic' angle covers a lot of things, but among the most consistent I've seen are industry considerations and image. When this is a major factor, sometimes you'll see that the company only moves a limited set of functions to the new urban headquarters while other jobs remain behind or get moved somewhere else entirely.

 

Workforce: For many recent urban relocations, access to a rich supply of a particular workforce has been given as a key driver. Companies who want access to young, educated talent are finding that many of them don't want to live in the suburbs and don't want to spend an hour commuting. While the trend is still for most jobs to be away from the central city, larger cities are winning the battle for relocations when the company wants access to the labor pool hipstering around their urban neighborhoods. Note that cities with a number of strong universities graduating thousands of those kids a year have a decided advantage as well.

 

I'll let you guys decide if Fort Worth's central core is competitive as a strategic move or as a supplier of thousands and thousands of highly-educated millennials.

 

That's probably too many words already, but I'll close with this to sort-of tie back to the original topic: as you develop your CBD or CTD or downtown strategy of the future, I would encourage you to include the areas outside the central core - past Lancaster and the river. Many of the companies relocating to cities are in fact moving into areas such as these, outside the forest of skyscrapers, where much of the real urban environment is actually happening.



#58 renamerusk

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 08:23 PM

(1) ....Texas has a few suburban areas (particularly the suburbs north of Dallas and some outside of Houston and Austin) with relatively low land prices, a large supply of skilled and educated workers, easy access to a major airport, good schools, etc. Texas also has a more pro-business economic climate than many other states....However, Texas does also enjoy some growth in and near its downtowns. (3) Why does Fort Worth seem so unsuccessful in that regard?


(2) ....Companies who want access to young, educated talent are finding that many of them don't want to live in the suburbs and don't want to spend an hour commuting. While the trend is still for most jobs to be away from the central city, larger cities are winning the battle for relocations when the company wants access to the labor pool hipstering around their urban neighborhoods. Note that cities with a number of strong universities graduating thousands of those kids a year have a decided advantage as well....

 

(4) I'll let you guys decide if Fort Worth's central core is competitive as a strategic move or as a supplier of thousands and thousands of highly-educated millennials.

 

 

#1 -  All of the qualities that you say are advantages for Dallas, Houston and Austin are also qualities that Fort Worth has too (low land prices, a large supply of skilled and educated workers, easy access to major airport, good schools (private and parochial). And Fort Worth is also a city in Texas.

 

#2 -  Isn't it the similar to the question of the chicken and the egg as to which comes first.  Was there already a large pool of hipsters in Dallas, Houston and Austin waiting for jobs or did jobs become the magnet for these hipsters to them? I tend to think that jobs attract labor.

 

#3 - This is theory borne of a reality but what you have in Texas is three large metropolitan areas with four legacy downtowns.  There is no competition within two metropolitan areas with a single downtown, thus they get all of the attention or development; and one metropolitan area with two competing downtowns that share a large area. Painful as it is to admit; in the competitive metropolitan area, and inevitably one of the two downtowns will become dominant as businesses will and tend to consolidate in a single location/proximity - "synenergy"

 

#4 - The question that you pose is unclear.  But don't rely upon a demand for thousands and thousands of highly educated millennials as the future of Fort Worth for they too are likely to be caught in the greater sweep of technology.  Of the three cities that you mentioned, Austin is likely to do the best.  Does Fort Worth have a choice?  I believe so.Austin is a highly conference service,  touristic and resort leaning city; and has created a lifestyle that is unique in Texas.  I think Fort Worth choice is to emulate Austin as much as it can.  Industry cities, like Houston and commercial cities like Dallas face a consumer and technology revolution as technology advances and jobs are replaced by robots.

 

And I know I keep harping on the move from the traditional CBD to a new "CTD" but these two narratives explain my position:

 

https://www.fastcomp...laced-by-robots

 

http://reports.wefor...ndustry-trends/



#59 gdvanc

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 02:21 AM

No time to respond to all of this, but let me start with the first two. I'll try to get to the others over the next few days, weeks or years.
 

#1 -  All of the qualities that you say are advantages for Dallas, Houston and Austin are also qualities that Fort Worth has too (low land prices, a large supply of skilled and educated workers, easy access to major airport, good schools (private and parochial). And Fort Worth is also a city in Texas.
 
#2 -  Isn't it the similar to the question of the chicken and the egg as to which comes first.  Was there already a large pool of hipsters in Dallas, Houston and Austin waiting for jobs or did jobs become the magnet for these hipsters to them? I tend to think that jobs attract labor.



#1: It's true Fort Worth has these qualities to some extent. To clarify, though, I was addressing a comment about how companies were moving to the suburbs in Texas and pointing out that a few particular suburban areas in Texas have been really successful, making it almost look like only suburbs were getting the corporate relos. So I was not commenting on Dallas, Houston and Austin per se, but some of their suburbs.

 

For Dallas, I was specifically speaking of its northern suburbs, but I suppose it makes sense to include far north Dallas as well. That area outside the loop from I-35E through Richardson and Plano has more than its share of headquarters and regional offices, sprawling suburban campuses, millions of square feet of office space and hundreds of thousands of jobs. And moving north into places like Frisco, it just continues to boom. I love Fort Worth as much as anyone, but we have nothing like that in Tarrant County. It is areas like this that are attracting the corporations looking for suburban campuses.

 

#2: If I'm following our conversation correctly, here we're back to urban relocations and the young geniuses attracting companies back to the inner city. Which came first? Neither springs from nothingness.

 

The places where you're reading about companies moving back are places like New York, Chicago and Boston. They have an existing urban scene and strong universities cranking out large numbers of highly-educated young people. Some of these newly-minted graduates stick around for jobs that are just close enough to make the commute bearable. It isn't as if there are no jobs in the area. So you do have both the supply of labor and enough of a demand to keep some of them there. Moving your headquarters there just means that fewer of them will have to move away to find work elsewhere; there is a continually-renewed supply.

 

What does this mean for a place like Fort Worth that, let's face it, doesn't have an urban scene at that scale? I think clearly if it wants to move that way it has to understand it's a long process. You're not going to get thousands of new people to suddenly move here in hopes of attracting a corporate relocation and you're not going to get a major relocation in hopes of it suddenly attracting the needed workforce. All you can do is try to make the environment attractive to both and let it build over time. There is no expressway to that destination and there are no guarantees that you'll ever get there.

 

And if you want to attract either to the areas in and around downtown, part of the solution could be shortening the temporal distance between downtown and wherever the people or jobs currently are.



#60 renamerusk

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 11:00 AM

All you can do is try to make the environment attractive to both and let it build over time. There is no expressway to that destination and there are no guarantees that you'll ever get there.

 

Once again, all great points.  One of the clearest assessments of the predicament that Fort Worth finds itself in.

 

One particular point strikes a chord with me.  Fort Worth does have in its power the ability to change and make the environment attractive by:

 

#1. Reconciling itself with reality that competing for the same type of traditional commercial downtown businesses and expecting them to locate there is a very steep mountain to climb.  These businesses have for their own reasons decided to either consolidate in the Dallas CBD/suburbs or in the edges of the metropolitan area;

 

#2. Reshaping what the CBD is to be going forward by the providing incentives to the residential, entertainment, conventioneering and hospitality sectors.  Downtown can become the place where the lights are bright, the streets are alive with people living there, and tourist are crowding the restaurants, shops and theaters.  In away, Fort Worth is already laying the groundwork for this to occur (Dickie Arena, Convention Upgrade, the Lancaster Corridor).

 

I believe that Fort Worth should play the hand that it has been dealt; a hand that is not as dire as the XTO exit caused, but a hand, if played upon its strengthens,  consists of a "beautiful and safe Downtown, a Western heritage, the sense of a friendliness,  a reinvigorated river front, etc.  These things make the "niche" that Fort Worth can showcase to the outside and that the City has the power to make happen.



#61 johnfwd

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 02:07 PM

Aside from the astute and insightful philosophical points made above, the reality of residing downtown is that not all amenities are there...at least where downtown Fort Worth is concerned. 

 

For one, there are no major supermarkets or discount department stores in downtown Fort Worth.  The Walmarts, Targets, Tom Thumbs, and the like are apt to locate outside the CBD.  There used to be a Woolworth's and a 5-and-dime store, but no longer.  I don't like shopping at the downtown retail specialty stores for clothes, as the prices are too high.  For food and other consumer products, the Walgreens drug store on Texas Street doesn't fit the bill, its prices are too high and they don't stock produce.  Those tiny storefront beer-and-cigarette convenience stores here and there downtown don't impress me.

 

Families residing downtown need to enroll their children in an elementary, middle school, or high school.  Is there one close enough to downtown for a reasonably short school bus commute?  Come to think of it, I rarely see a school bus downtown unless it's part of a children's visit to Bass Performance Hall.

 

I suppose a Tower resident parks his/her car for a fee in one of the parking garages.  I prefer to park my car for free--that is to say, in my suburban residential drive-way.  For fuel, a downtown resident must drive a distance to the nearest service station, unless he/she wishes to go to the three service stations located in and near the CBD.

 

Not all is missing.  There are good restaurants.  There is police and fire service.  The nearby hospital district.  And there are Catholic and Protestant churches located downtown.



#62 JBB

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 02:14 PM

If you are paying for your residence in the suburbs, you are paying to park.  The cost is rolled into your house payment, rent, etc.  It didn't come with the house or apartment for free.



#63 renamerusk

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:22 PM

Aside from the astute and insightful philosophical points made above, the reality of residing downtown is that not all amenities are there...at least where downtown Fort Worth is concerned....

 

 Obviously, you are unaware of the reality of what Downtown already has in amenities and some to come.

 

Some, if not the best public schools, lie within or in proximity of Downtown: Nash Elementary/Trimble Tech/Bright Horizon Montesorri and the STEM Academy now under construction.  Paschal is a short commute; and students as far away as Aledo attend Paschal for its academic offerings. And too, families will and do enroll their children in private schools that are located across the city and that will continue.

 

In time, a grocer will locate within downtown proper, especially when there becomes a large enough residential population to support one. I think you can expect a grocer to locate in the Samuel Blvd neighborhood. Walgreen will be opening in the 800 car garage on Houston Street.

 

Downtown dwellers are likely the kinds of people who use car services (Lyft,Uber), trains and car services; and are people who factor this into their decision early on when deciding to live Downtown. Walking and cycling is another option for downtowners. The reality is ownership and operating a car is not cost free (insurance, taxes, fuel, maintenance, depreciation). Lots of downtowners will be retirees (Trinity Terrace) and will not own cars because driving has becomes increasingly more difficult to do.

 

True, Downtown living isn't for everyone, however it is a lifestyle that many will choose for their personal reasons.



#64 Dismuke

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 06:21 PM

If you are paying for your residence in the suburbs, you are paying to park.  The cost is rolled into your house payment, rent, etc.  It didn't come with the house or apartment for free.

 

Yes, that is of course correct.  But in the final analysis - not so much. 

 

It is like the "free" water that pretty much any restaurant will give to customers.  The water, of course, is not free.  The restaurant pays a water bill to cover all of the costs associated with piping it to the restaurant.  The restaurant also pays for cups and for the costs associated with making the ice - both of which cost more than the water itself.  But those costs are so marginal that to break them out and pass them on to customers as a separate fee would end up being penny wise/pound foolish on the part of the restaurant. 

 

Sure, the savings from not having to subsidize the cost of "free" water could be passed on to customers who either drink nothing or who pay for drinks such as coffee or soda.  But the savings would be so minimal as to be irrelevant to most customers.  More importantly, if such a restaurant charged for water, it would be received negatively  by a number of customers who would perceive the owners as little more than anal retentive cheapskates who seek to nickle and dime their customers.   The damage to the restaurants reputation and customer satisfaction would cost far more than any savings that might result from not subsidizing "free" water.

 

It would be an entirely different matter if certain circumstances were changed.  For example, if the restaurant were located in a part of the world where the local water supply was not safe and the only water fit for drinking was bottled water the owners would most likely not be in a position to provide complimentary water because of the costs associated with providing bottled water - and that would be something most customers would be able to understand and not hold against the restaurant.

 

A good example of how something like this can vary according to different circumstances is hotel rooms with private bathrooms.  Up until a little less than a hundred years ago, if one wanted a hotel room with a private bath it was common practice for one to have to pay extra.   Most hotels provided shared bathroom facilities  - a room with a private bath was considered a luxury.   Over time, however, the cost associated with installing plumbing fell to the point that hotel rooms without a private bathroom were no longer built.  The only place one will still find them today in the United States are in older hotels in places such as New York City.

 

Sure, a hotel could still save money on construction costs by building shared bathroom facilities rather than a private bathroom in each room.  But the savings would be so marginal as to not be worth it.  Let's say that over the course of however many years the savings could result in a $5 per night reduction in the price of a hotel room.   How many people would be willing to endure the hassles associated with staying in such a facility just to save $5?   Chances are the discount the hotel would have to offer for such a room would far exceed the savings that would be obtained by omitting the private bath.  Therefore, when you book a room at even the lowest end budget motel chain, a "free" private bathroom will be included with your room - along with "free" use of a TV, and other things. Most hotels now offer "free" internet - something that, a few years ago, had to be purchased as an add-on.

 

The same principle applies with regard to suburban parking spaces.  Of course such parking spaces are not free.  They occupy space which presumably has a certain value per square foot and, of course, the material and labor to pave the parking space is not free either.  But just as it does not make economic sense to build new hotel rooms without private baths, it makes no sense to build a suburban housing without parking.  Yes, there would be a certain cost savings by omitting parking - but the reduction in property value or the rent one could charge would far exceed any such savings.  For that reason, no suburban developer in his right mind would build houses that did not include a driveway and most likely they would not even build a house that did not include a garage.   Therefore, parking is "free" in the suburbs just as water is in restaurants and bathrooms, air conditioning/heat, the use of a TV, etc is included for "free" whenever one books a hotel room.

 

The only reason parking is not "free" in urban areas is entirely due to land scarcity - which, of course, makes the cost of providing such parking expensive.  In this case, it makes sense to break the cost of parking out and bill for it separately because tenants who are able to get by with one parking space instead of two or perhaps with no parking space at all results in a significant savings that can be passed on.

 

So it is entirely reasonable for johnfwd to prefer to park his car for "free" in the suburbs than pay for parking downtown.  In the suburbs the cost of a parking space is a marginal part of the price of the property and is, therefore, included with it.  In downtown parking is scarce and thus one has to pay a steep price for it. It is not as if the cost of downtown housing is less expensive than suburban housing due to the lack of included parking.  Quite the contrary - even without parking downtown housing is expensive.  Therefore, there are certain premiums one has to pay and/or hassles one has to endure in order to live downtown.  For some people it is worth it - for others it is not.  How would you enjoy staying in a hotel where you had to swipe your credit card to activate the television, the shower, the toilet and to ensure that the air conditioner/heater continues to operate for a certain number of additional hours without realizing any sort of cost savings by your not using such amenities?  You probably won't appreciate it very much - but it is conceivable that some people might be willing to do so if such a hotel were able to offer some other value that made such costs and hassles worth enduring.

 

My strong guess is economists have a technical name for the principle involved here - I just don't know what it is.

 


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#65 renamerusk

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 09:32 PM

Yes, that is of course correct.  But in the final analysis - not so much. 


So it is entirely reasonable for johnfwd to prefer to park his car for "free" in the suburbs than pay for parking downtown. 

 

In this specific scenario, johnfwd has a valid point.

 

Yet to the finer point surrounding car parking "suburbs v. downtown", doesn't the final analysis depends upon the situations and their differing realities?

 

Yeah, in an auto oriented community like Fort Worth where cars are an absolute necessity, the ownership of a car along with its externalities is a reality. And yeah, in a transit rigorous community, like New York or Washington, D.C. where cars aren't an absolute necessity, the ownership of a car is not entirely reasonable; so that too is a reality.

 

If  johnfwd, who must surely realize the difference between an auto and a transit oriented city v. "cars", can admit that his preference cannot be actualized in Fort Worth; then he will admit that his preference cannot be a reasonable choice.

 

To arrive at a final analysis requires first an understanding of the situation and which reality has relevancy.



#66 Dismuke

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:11 AM

 

Yet to the finer point surrounding car parking "suburbs v. downtown", doesn't the final analysis depends upon the situation that can make for different realities?

 

 

Yes.  Exactly.  Which is what I pointed out in my posting.  

 

In the suburbs a dwelling that did not include parking would be perceived by most prospective residents as being significantly flawed.  Developers are not going to build suburban housing that does not include parking because the discount they would have to offer in order to sell or rent such a property would far exceed the relatively marginal cost of including parking spaces.  There are people who live in the suburbs who do not use cars - for example, people with disabilities that make it impossible for them to drive.  But even they would be ill-advised to request a house to be built without parking in order to save on the cost of pouring a driveway because of the extreme difficulties and reduced offers they would encounter in the event that they or their heirs put the property up for sale.

 

In Manhattan, by contrast, the lack of space makes the cost of even a tiny amount of square footage extremely expensive  If a seller or landlord were to include parking in the price of a dwelling that price would be cost prohibitive to most buyers/tenants. Thus including a parking space would make it more difficult to find a buyer or tenant in the same way that not including one would make it difficult to find a buyer or tenant in Plano.

 

Because of the scarcity of space, owning a car in most of New York City has been highly impractical ever since cars were first introduced.  For that reason the pre-automobile era infrastructure in New York and a few other cities in the USA remained in place to such a degree that one still can get by without a car.  In the rest of the country, for example, here in Texas, that pre-automobile era infrastructure began to slowly disappear as soon as cars became increasingly affordable.

 

 

If johnfwd, who must surely realize the difference between an auto and a transit oriented city v. "cars", can admit that his preference cannot be actualized in Fort Worth; then he will admit that his preference cannot be a reasonable choice.

 

I think you are misrepresenting johnfwd's actual position and trying to find a point of contention that does not exist.

 

Johnfwd made certain observations about downtown that are entirely factual: downtown shops are high priced and offer limited selection and that one has to pay extra for parking.  He then suggests that he prefers having certain amenities that are available in the suburbs but which are either not available downtown or which are only available at a higher price.

 

One can certainly say that one's own personal set of priorities and preferences are different than johnfwd's - but there are no grounds to suggest that his preference here is somehow unreasonable.  Most people prefer to have handy, affordable and hassle-free access to the amenities that are important to them - and it is eminently reasonable for them to do so.   Johnfwd was not knocking downtown.  He was simply pointing out that it currently lacks certain amenities that are important to him and thus living downtown is not a fit for him. I saw no indication that he was in any way suggesting that it might not be a great fit for someone else who might have different priorities and preferences.

 

My own attitude towards lifestyle preferences is really simple:  so long as they don't involve the initiation of force or fraud against someone else, your lifestyle preferences are your business and nobody else's.  Life is short - know what is important and precious to you and live your life accordingly.


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#67 Dismuke

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 12:14 PM

 

 

For one, there are no major supermarkets or discount department stores in downtown Fort Worth.  The Walmarts, Targets, Tom Thumbs, and the like are apt to locate outside the CBD.  There used to be a Woolworth's and a 5-and-dime store, but no longer.  I don't like shopping at the downtown retail specialty stores for clothes, as the prices are too high.  For food and other consumer products, the Walgreens drug store on Texas Street doesn't fit the bill, its prices are too high and they don't stock produce.  Those tiny storefront beer-and-cigarette convenience stores here and there downtown don't impress me.

 

 

It is certainly true that downtown, unlike the urban areas of certain other cities, is pretty much a void in terms of shopping within easy walking distance.  A downtown resident who does not have access to a car is pretty much in the same position as residents in so-called "food deserts" who lack transportation and whose only nearby shopping options are convenience stores and, if they are lucky, maybe a dollar store or Walgreens.

 

Most downtown residents, however, do have cars.  And for them the stores you mention are no further away than they are for many residents who live in the suburbs.   There is a SuperTarget, a Tom Thumb and a Natural Grocers a short drive west on West 7th.  There is a Walmart Supercenter a short drive up Jacksboro Highway and another a short drive away at 121 and Beach.  I suspect that there are many suburban areas where the drive to such stores is just as far if not further.  Plus the drive from downtown to the nearest Central Market is a lot shorter than it is for most suburbanites.

 

I think the big point here is that, unless you have unique circumstances, having a car is a necessity even for those who live downtown.  And yet owning a car downtown is a hassle.

 

I was driving through the dense urbanesque portion of Dallas known as Uptown a couple of years ago with a friend.  I was wanting to go to a chain Mexican restaurant that had a location there and discovered that the only parking available was valet parking.  I hate valet parking - it is a hassle and I do not like handing my vehicle over to someone else. I didn't even bother to inquire if I would have to pay extra for that "service."  I just pulled out my Google Maps and drove to a location further out where I knew I would be able to park without a hassle.

 

My friend pointed out that the so-called "urban" districts here in the Metroplex are at still at the point where they offer the WORST aspects of both urban and suburban areas and the advantages of neither.  They offer the worst aspects of the suburbs in that it impractical for most to get by without the expense and hassle of owning and maintaining a car.  They offer the worst aspects of urban areas in that everything is expensive, shopping options are limited and traffic and finding parking is a time-consuming hassle.

 

In the big cities with urban areas that are actually practical to live in, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of BOTH urban and suburban life.  For example, I have a friend who had to move from Houston to Boston for career reasons.  He and his wife went from a rented three bedroom house to a cramped studio apartment in the Back Bay that cost much more than the rented house - and, of course, there was no way they could have afforded to keep their cars.  They were able to get by without a car just fine.  But the nearest grocery store was a Whole Paych...errr, I mean, Whole Foods.  And all of the other stores were expensive as well.   But Boston had ZipCars which one could rent by the hour.  So what they did was rent a ZipCar once a month and drove out to the suburbs where they would visit big box stores and stock up on non-perishables, toiletries and such at prices low enough to offset the cost of the car rental and the travel time.   It amused me when I noted the similarities to what people in rural areas do - the small town stores have very little in the way of selection and prices are high.  So rural people usually make a periodic trip to the nearest regional population center in order stock up on items that they cannot obtain locally.

 

The advent of  two day and even same day delivery by online merchants such as Amazon is likely going to be a revolutionary godsend for people in both urban and rural areas in that it will bring suburban pricing and a range of selection that is even better than what is available in the suburbs to their doorsteps.

 

And, in reverse, if one lives in the suburban outskirts of Boston or New York, all one has to do is hop on a transit line to enjoy everything the city has to offer - and when they get to their destination they can go anywhere they need without a car.   Here, when one gets off at a T stop or a DART stuff, that which is available within easy walking distance is limited, and, in some cases, EXTREMELY limited.

 

In that sense, our area doesn't even have an "urban" area in the same sense as what exists in New York or Boston.  A car is still a necessity for the vast majority of people and the lack of a car usually translates into hassle and lost opportunities.  What we have are "urbanesque" areas.  But if such areas continue to do well and reach a certain critical mass, that could change.  And technology could change things too.  The advent of Amazon same day delivery, services such as Uber and who knows what else is on the horizon could potentially bridge a lot of gaps.


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#68 renamerusk

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:43 PM

 

#1 -....Johnfwd made certain observations about downtown that are entirely factual: downtown shops are high priced and offer limited selection and that one has to pay extra for parking.  He then suggests that he prefers having certain amenities that are available in the suburbs but which are either not available downtown or which are only available at a higher price....One can certainly say that one's own personal set of priorities and preferences are different than johnfwd's - but there are no grounds to suggest that his preference here is somehow unreasonable.  Most people prefer to have handy, affordable and hassle-free access to the amenities that are important to them - and it is eminently reasonable for them to do so....Johnfwd was not knocking downtown.  He was simply pointing out that it currently lacks certain amenities that are important to him and thus living downtown is not a fit for him. I saw no indication that he was in any way suggesting that it might not be a great fit for someone else who might have different priorities and preferences.

 

 

 

#2 - It is certainly true that downtown, unlike the urban areas of certain other cities, is pretty much a void in terms of shopping within easy walking distance.  A downtown resident who does not have access to a car is pretty much in the same position as residents in so-called "food deserts" who lack transportation and whose only nearby shopping options are convenience stores and, if they are lucky, maybe a dollar store or Walgreens.

 

#1 - Yes; a point that has been conceded earlier as being valid in specific situations. However, can it  "truly" be his preference when most of what the post-war boom did to redefine cities was determined by the auto/highway industry, the housing industry, big-box malls/retailing industry.  Instead of stating ones preference, one would be more precise is stating that what has been dictated to one is what one likes.  A preference is only truly a preference when one has a viable option, like when one prefers "chocolate ice cream to strawberry ice cream".

 

Of course, somewhere near to 99% of American cities do not have a viable option today, but those very few cities that offer options have a population that in significant number love and prefer an auto-less lifestyle where consumer goods and services providers have been eager to deliver; and at reasonable prices.  In fact, the savings from living downtown most likely contributes to having additional disposal income that would otherwise been spent owning and operating an automobile and that goes into the "cash registers" of the providers.

 

The lack of certain amenities is not the fault of downtown living; it is the fault of 75 years of the concerted efforts by the aforementioned industries having a business agenda at the expense of urbanism; and ultimately dictating where people live and how they move about within a city.  Understanding what happened to downtown helps one to understand the falacy of using the term "preference".

 

#2 - Using the past and current models is not the better models for the future of downtown areas; and hopefully, not the future of Downtown Fort Worth.  Reinvent Downtown and the future could be filled with a new set of amenities.  Retailing is continuing to be reinvented. The future shops are the virtual shops. Downtown can have grocers, pharmacies, cleaners, etc.  Fort Worth can have an effective transit system.  The population of Downtown can have more inhabitants that can include all levels of income. 

 

Technology will change the way we live, shop and work. When it does, providers will, as they always have, deliver to where people live.  I believe that the next 75 years will and should be characterized by a concerted effort on the part of Fort Worth to reverse the previous 7-1/2 decades by creating a Downtown neighborhood with unparalleled amenities.

 

I suggest that if there were an viable option, free from being dictated, then reason could be a consideration.  Since the option is not available in Fort Worth, I find it an imperfect conclusion to pit suburb v. downtown as a reasonable outcome.  As the adage goes - "Damned if you do; and damned if you don't".



#69 Dismuke

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 06:02 PM

 


 

 

#1 - Yes; a point that has been conceded earlier as being valid in specific situations. However, can it  "truly" be his preference when most of what the post-war boom did to redefine cities was determined by the auto/highway industry, the housing industry, big-box malls/retailing industry.  Instead of stating ones preference, one would be more precise is stating that what has been dictated to one is what one likes.  A preference is only truly a preference when one has a viable option, like when one prefers "chocolate ice cream to strawberry ice cream".

 

This is degenerating into hair splitting and becoming unnecessarily complicated.

 

All johnfwd did was make some fact-based observations about the current state of downtown and indicated that it is not a good fit for him given the options available to him elsewhere. That is ALL he said - nothing more.  It really is that simple.

 

To use your ice cream example - most people when offered a choice of chocolate or strawberry ice cream either choose one or the other or they politely decline ice cream altogether. They don't come up with thoughts that, because coffee, coconut and cinnamon flavors were not also offered, it means that they were not "truly" able to express a preference or that because they happen to be lactose intolerant the lack of a dairy-free option  means that they never had a choice to begin with. They either say "chocolate please" or "strawberry please" or "no thank you."

 

 

Of course, somewhere near to 99% of American cities do not have a viable option today, but those very few cities that offer options have a population that in significant number love and prefer an auto-less lifestyle where consumer goods and services providers have been eager to deliver; and at reasonable prices.  I

 

Yes.  And there are also plenty of people who have left such cities for places like Texas and are glad to be rid of them.   For example, I have heard a lot of people over the years express how delighted they were that, after moving to Texas, for the same price as rent on a cramped not-so-nice apartment in New York City they were able to afford a mortgage on a house that was downright huge by comparison with its own back yard and/or pool.   Others couldn't care less about having such things and there are still others who think owning a house with a back yard is evil and a mortal sin against Mother Gaia. It all depends on what one regards as important and what one values.


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#70 renamerusk

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:11 PM

This is degenerating into hair splitting and becoming unnecessarily complicated.

 

....... some fact-based observations about the current state of downtown and indicated that it is not a good fit for him given the options available to him elsewhere.....

 

To use your ice cream example - most people when offered a choice of chocolate or strawberry ice cream either choose one or the other ......

 

Yes. And as much as it has generated into what can arguably be said is a complicated double standard when discussing Downtown. 

 

From the earliest posts, efforts were underway that would require that in order for Downtown to be viable, it needed certain conditions in place (high paying jobs/office workers, etc); the diagnosis: status quo.   Any other strategy was seen to be a non-starter.Then there is a lack of "amenities" for people living Downtown which an attempt in post #63 was made demonstrate that this is not necessarily accurate.  Of course, at least speaking for myself, the observations are valid and a stipulation was made to that point in post #65.

 

But lets get to a point which I consider unfair: evaluating a downtown as if it has been given the same resources to be a livable neighborhood as other neighborhoods in a city and then stating a preference when there really was not any livable option available.  This is perpetuated by also placing preconditions on downtown that are not placed upon other neighborhoods.  So it is not surprising that one would state a preference given such disparity between the two options.

 

It is odd for me to accept that parking one's car in a suburb is to be considered an amenity; and a free one at that.  Even if paying for parking downtown is onerous,  replacing a car 1-2 times in 10 years, fueling it, servicing it, etc. is equally as onerous.  How many actual hours of use do you derive from having a car? How many actual hours of use do you derive from living in a downtown that can be active reach a 1-16 hours of lifestyle each and everyday?  Of all the amenities that one could cite as being preferable about living in suburbia as oppose to living in a downtown neighborhood, the satisfaction of car parking strikes me as the least among them.

 

And to the suggestion that one can prefer the neighborhood in suburbs over a place that has been purposefully downgraded as a place to be inhabited by the dictates of the auto and affiliated industry is unfair to downtown.  Women in Saudi Arabia may prefer riding in the back seat of a car, but is it really a preference when it is dictated by the interests of others? It is unfair to those women's ability to drive if given the chance.

 

If downtown, and to be specific, Downtown Fort Worth, is to be reinvented then the cornerstones should begin to be laid now and those interests that have been dictating where we live should no longer be in command.



#71 Dismuke

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 05:39 AM

 

It is odd for me to accept that parking one's car in a suburb is to be considered an amenity; and a free one at that.  Even if paying for parking downtown is onerous,  replacing a car 1-2 times in 10 years, fueling it, servicing it, etc. is equally as onerous. 

 

 

 

But most people who live in downtown Fort Worth already have a car.  It would be extremely difficult for most people to live there without one - so they, too,  have to fuel, service and eventually replace a car.   Besides, you were the one who staunchly disagreed when I suggested that it was absurd to expect a downtown resident to be inclined to make the same sort of grinding commute to Dallas that lots of people in other parts of the city make.

 

 

How many actual hours of use do you derive from having a car? How many actual hours of use do you derive from living in a downtown that can be active reach a 1-16 hours of lifestyle each and everyday? Of all the amenities that one could cite as being preferable about living in suburbia as oppose to living in a downtown neighborhood, the satisfaction of car parking strikes me as the least among them.

 

Well, if you haven't already noticed, some people are REALLY into cars.  They enjoy having them and they enjoy driving them for reasons above and beyond the fact that in our part of the world they are also a practical necessity.  Some enjoy it to the point that they have more vehicles then they actually "need" for purpose of getting from point A to point B.   You may or may not share that passion and that is your choice and prerogative - just as it is theirs. .

 

 

And to the suggestion that one can prefer the neighborhood in suburbs over a place that has been purposefully downgraded as a place to be inhabited by the dictates of the auto and affiliated industry is unfair to downtown.

 

There is nothing fair or unfair about it.   People's preferences are what they are - and they base them on their own needs, desires and values.  If, for some reason, they choose to act contrary to their preferences out of some sort of sense of obligation or need to be "just" that doesn't change what their preferences are. They are simply acting contrary to their preferences.

 

And I would add that someone choosing to ignore their actual preferences and living downtown when they would, in fact, prefer to live in the suburbs because downtown "needs" more people and, according to you, has somehow gotten the short end of the stick - well, I would suggest that would be a horrible act of self-sacrifice.

 

And, guess what?  It is not as if downtown would even be aware of the sacrifice to be grateful to it - just as downtown is not aware of nor can it feel the pain of the injustice that you say has been inflicted on it. Downtown is not some sort of conscious, living and breathing entity capable of experiencing joy or pain or anything else.  Downtown is a geographic space occupied by streets, lots and buildings - i.e., it is a collection of inanimate objects.  The concepts of fair and unfair, just and unjust are only applicable to human beings.  To apply them to inanimate objects is to anthropomorphize.

 

 

Women in Saudi Arabia may prefer riding in the back seat of a car, but is it really a preference when it is dictated by the interests of others? It is unfair to those women's ability to drive if given the chance.

 

 

That is actually a horrible example.   The situation faced by women in Saudi Arabia is NOT merely a matter of being "unfair."  Women in Saudi Arabia are victims of raw, savage brute force inflicted upon them by a barbaric culture and a barbaric government - and if they disobey they are subjected to unspeakable and brutal consequences.  It is the same as suggesting that the Holocaust was "unfair" - to say that diminishes and negates the full scope of its evil.   I KNOW that it is not your intention to do this - that's why I wanted to point this out.

 

In Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to have a preference - period.  People here do have a choice to live downtown or not.  And the fact that downtown lacks certain things that would entice more people to live there is not the result of Saudi Arabia like brute force.  Much of it, in fact, is marketplace driven - i.,e, the cumulative result of other people's choices and preferences.  For example, Fort Worth does not have any decent Indian grocery markets - I have to drive to Irving to find one.  That is not unfair at all - there simply aren't sufficient numbers of people here to have the interest in supporting one.  By contrast, there are lots of Indians who live in Irving.   You might be able to make a case that public policy decisions in the past have artificially boosted the suburbs and handicapped downtown - and I might even agree with this to a certain degree.  But even so, that is not something on a Saudi Arabia scale.   That would be along the same lines of someone trying to equate the mandatory seat belt laws in Texas to the prohibition against women driving in Saudi Arabia.  Both are examples of compulsion - but to draw equivalency between the two lacks not just a sense of proportion but minimizes the sheer evil of what occurs in Saudi Arabia.


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#72 renamerusk

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:46 PM

At the onset of this thread, the suggestion or the implied asking for answer to "what should be the future strategy of Downtown in light of the hemorrhaging of office worker jobs by D R Horton and XTO?"

 

Over the course of this debate, a description of the posts coalesced generally into three groups:

 

Group A - Status Qou.(rely upon market forces)/compete harder with Dallas
Group B - Downtown is for the elite/holds no interest for the general population
Group C - Downtown needs a new strategy/undecided

 

The past is gone and thinking about tomorrow is the important thing. Instead of pointing out every kink and wart about downtown living, it is and always will be the most important emblem of Fort Worth. So asking again,  what is the prescription for a healthy and vibrant for Downtown's future?
 
 



#73 johnfwd

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 09:37 AM

We haven't discussed much the future transportation scheme for downtown Fort Worth (or any major city's downtown).  My futuristic vision is for a downtown entirely devoted to pedestrian access and people movers.   It could be by electric trolley car, overhead monorail, subway, or even a hyper-loop system.  But no more access by automobiles.  Of course that would mean either demolishing the parking garages and parking lots or converting them for other uses.  This would make our downtown a more "user-friendly" trafficking place, for commercial markets, government offices, residential housing, or tourism businesses.



#74 Dismuke

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 11:13 AM

We haven't discussed much the future transportation scheme for downtown Fort Worth (or any major city's downtown).  My futuristic vision is for a downtown entirely devoted to pedestrian access and people movers.   It could be by electric trolley car, overhead monorail, subway, or even a hyper-loop system.  But no more access by automobiles.  Of course that would mean either demolishing the parking garages and parking lots or converting them for other uses.  This would make our downtown a more "user-friendly" trafficking place, for commercial markets, government offices, residential housing, or tourism businesses.

 

It sounds like it would be a neat idea for somebody who is able to live, work and shop downtown and rarely has need to venture beyond its boundaries. 

 

But what about people in the vast geographic area of the Metroplex beyond downtown?   Would this make them more inclined to go downtown or less inclined to go downtown?  If it makes large numbers of people less inclined to go downtown, what impact would this have on the decisions of employers, shops and restaurants to locate downtown?   For obvious reasons, the preferences and convenience of employees and customers is something that any business has to give serious consideration to.

 

In the end, unless such a vision is just a fun exercise in fantasy (and there is nothing wrong with such fun and the seeds of valuable practical ideas can sometimes emerge from it) for it to be an actual success it has to pass the test of whether sufficient numbers of real life ordinary people will look upon it as a benefit and support it financially.

 

In the 1960s - 1980s downtown pedestrian malls were very trendy with central planner types as a means of reversing the decline of downtowns and making them viable and relevant in the age of suburban shopping malls.  And if one were to look at such proposals from the period in an out of context manner, they did sound kinda cool -  streets would be converted into nicely landscaped walkways where people could quaintly stroll to shops and restaurants in a picturesque setting not having to worry about the noise, smell and hazards of traffic and crossing streets.  Cities all over the country jumped on board desperate to do something.   By the 1990s, with a handful of exceptions, they were an utter failure and only accelerated the rate of decline. Most ended up being either ripped out completely or significantly modified to bring back the traffic.

 

I am sure one can come up with a lengthy list of the various factors that contributed to the failure of the downtown pedestrian malls. In the end, they all boil down to this:  once they were built the same public that supported the idea and vision of a downtown pedestrian mall and supported the use of taxpayer funds to construct them failed to support them in the way that actually mattered.by personally going downtown on a regular basis and spending money at the businesses along the mall.

 

In other words, the very same people who supported the idea of a downtown pedestrian mall were not motivated to actually use it themselves because it had no relevance and offered no benefit or convenience to their actual day-to-day life.  Perhaps they visited it once or twice to check it out and "show support" but beyond that, they had no compelling need or desire to go there.

 

Such people hold what I call the "Field of Dreams premise: "Build it and other people will magically appear to enthusiastically support it because.....well, because it is such a darned good idea!"    Who these "other people" are, where they will come from and why they would even want to show up in the first place is not thought of beyond the premise of "well...they ought to show up because it is such a darned good idea."

 

Most people's daily lives have to contend with two constant obstacles to their goals, dreams and aspirations: a shortage of time and money.   Any idea or proposal that requires them to spend some combination of time and money that does not give them in return something they perceive as being of greater value is going to necessarily be viewed by them as either an inconvenience, a hassle or a burden.  The world is filled with all sorts of projects and endeavors that failed because people have this inconvenient habit of not supporting things that they regard as an inconvenience, hassle or burden.

 

The very people who supported the idea of pedestrian malls did not support them when they were built because they regarded the expenditure of time and money to support them in the only way that actually mattered to be either an inconvenience, a hassle or a financial burden.   Such malls failed to address in a serious way the reasons why downtowns were declining in the first place - and, in some cases such as the parking hassles and extra expenditure of time associated with shopping downtown, were made even worse.   The "other people" never came out of the woodwork - because there were not enough people whose lives would have been sufficiently improved by showing up and spending money.  

 

The world is full of "darned good ideas" - more than any single person could possibly support.  Most people don't have much bandwidth left after dealing with the day to day challenges of their lives - so they are choosy as to how they use it.

 

I often spot the same fallacy in conversations about public transit: people who I suspect would be very unlikely to actually use public transit themselves are passionate about the idea of public transit and passionately support various proposals on the premise that if it is built "other people" will come out of the woodwork and enthusiastically use it because...well, because it is such a darned good idea!

 

So the idea envisioned here - well, it sounds cool.  But the question is: who will show up? 

 

If I live elsewhere in the city and get around by automobile, is this something that is going to make it easier and more enticing for me to go downtown?  Or will the fact that I will have to spend time finding a parking space on the outskirts and then spend additional time waiting around for some sort of people mover to, at an additional expenditure of my time, take me where I want to go?  If so, what benefit would I get in return to make that expenditure of time worthwhile?   What if I work downtown and have to spend that additional amount of time getting to work each morning?  How many people would welcome having to spend even more time getting to and from work than they do already? 

 

If the answer is people will use transit to get to downtown instead of an automobile - then the same questions apply.  There is a time expenditure as well as logistical concerns associated with transit - including the time and logistics of getting to the nearest transit stop to one's home. And what about people who, with an automobile, run multiple errands after work on their way home?   That can be very difficult with transit - one is limited in what one can carry as well as limited by the selection of shops in convenient distance from transit stops plus the time spent waiting for a streetcar/bus to get back on after each stop.

 

If one attempts to implement some sort of project or vision without addressing such practical, day to day issues - the project is most likely doomed to become an expensive failure.  Private companies using private funds tend to be good about such research and inquiry (though not always) because they have limited access to capital and face financial and career consequences if the endeavor fails.  People who propose public works projects are not as good at that - because they are spending other people's money.

 

A project or vision does not have to appeal to everybody.  But it has to appeal to enough people for it to be a self-sustaining success and not a failure. I am not saying that the futuristic vision offered here is not possible.  I am just saying that if it is possible, there will have to be a large enough number of real world people who will derive real life everyday practical benefit from it for reasons beyond the fact that it sounds like a darned good idea. 


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#75 renamerusk

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 02:45 PM

.....My futuristic vision is for a downtown entirely devoted to pedestrian access and people movers....  But no more access by automobiles.  Of course that would mean either demolishing the parking garages and parking lots or converting them for other uses.  This would make our downtown a more "user-friendly" trafficking place, for commercial markets, government offices, residential housing, or tourism businesses.

 

 I admire your futuristic vision of eliminating the vehicular presence in Downtown, however I think it could never gain any support at all from any constituency. 

 

 My approach would be to instigate disincentives that would reduce a particular traffic of cars that use Downtown as part of a crosstown route by:

 

1. Making it impossible to cross through Downtown, east to west or west to east, at Main Street using 4th - 5th - 6th - 7th Streets.  At 5th, 6th and 7th Streets, traffic would be force to make a right turn at Main Street; and at 4th St, traffic would be forced to make a left turn at Main Street.

 

2. Crosstown traffic would be diverted to Weatherford and Belknap Streets and Lancaster Avenue. 

 

This traffic maze would discourage traffic that is not destined for Downtown to skirt Downtown instead of causing added congestion in the core area of Downtown. The blocks (5th,6th and 7th) between Houston and Main would have one lane and broad sidewalks; and the blocks (5th,6th and 7th) between Commerce and Main would have one lane and broad sidewalks.  The broad sidewalks would have kiosks (food, merchandising). Crosstown traffic would continue to be permitted one-way on Houston and Commerce Streets; and two-way on Throckmorton and Calhoun Streets.  There street parking along two-way streets would not be allowed, instead there would be a turn lane in the center of two-way streets.

 

Finally, I would install covered sidewalks with misty water sprayers and fans.

 

Downtown should be thought of as any other neighborhood.  Those who have a reason to be in Downtown should have access to it using cars and other motor vehicles.  Those whose destination is another part of town should be discouraged by interrupting their direct route as much as possible.



#76 johnfwd

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 06:33 AM

Dismuke, yes I was engaged in a fun-fantasy exercise.  Renamerusk, good ideas about restricting motor-vehicle access.  At the risk of repeating a boring history lesson, downtown as it has evolved here and elsewhere in America is a victim of the invention of the automobile.  We've discussed that point in this Forum in the past. 

 

Of course shoppers couldn't get too excited about downtown pedestrian malls when many other malls and shopping centers were being constructed in the fringe suburbs during the '60s and '70s.  Thanks mainly to convenient access afforded by the automobile.  And why go downtown to shop at a mall or do anything else there the amenities are nearby your neighborhood

 

Regrettably, trying to make today's motor-vehicle trafficked downtown more excusive for pedestrians is like--apologies for the trite expression--trying to get the cats back into the bag.  But the idea of a Central Tourism District is to be applauded, even if it is also a fanciful thought of re-inventing downtown in spite of the automobile.



#77 renamerusk

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 09:00 AM

Dismuke, yes I was engaged in a fun-fantasy exercise.

 

Of course shoppers couldn't get too excited about downtown pedestrian malls when many other malls and shopping centers were being constructed in the fringe suburbs during the '60s and '70s.  Thanks mainly to convenient access afforded by the automobile.  And why go downtown to shop at a mall or do anything else there the amenities are nearby your neighborhood

 

Regrettably, trying to make today's motor-vehicle trafficked downtown more excusive for pedestrians......

 

Being labeled as engaging in a fun-fantasy exercise is a bit unfair.  Thinking outside of the box can be an excellent tool for developing a new and effective strategy for the renewed and sustained Downtown.

 

Personally, it has been years since I lasted shopped at a mall. Today's shoppers are "amazonized"and enjoy the convenience of getting products online. Shoppers can live and and can make purchases from almost anywhere and all times.  Just yesterday, Sunday, I ordered an item for my gas dryer online that will be delivered to our home for a small shipping charge. There are some of us who inexplicably want to cling to the pre-computerized old model and who apply what worked then to what could work today.  I think that the change is irreversible.  The millennials and subsequent generations will be users of automobiles at lower rates that will impact the way cities and Downtown are used.  They have already impacted the way that we shop.

 

A more pedestrian oriented Downtown is to be applauded and it is time to begin to make it happen.



#78 Dismuke

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Posted 05 August 2017 - 01:46 PM

 

 

Of course shoppers couldn't get too excited about downtown pedestrian malls when many other malls and shopping centers were being constructed in the fringe suburbs during the '60s and '70s.  Thanks mainly to convenient access afforded by the automobile.  And why go downtown to shop at a mall or do anything else there the amenities are nearby your neighborhood

 

Yes, that is true.  But here's what's interesting: many downtowns across the country managed to eventually enjoy a revival despite the fact that that the automobile remains as entrenched as ever as people's primary means of transportation.  And Fort Worth actually had the distinction of being among the first USA cities to experience a downtown revival.

 

So why did the efforts in the 1960s and 1970s fail while later efforts were successful?

 

I think Fort Worth's downtown revival offers some clues.

 

I think the biggest reason why Fort Worth's revival worked is that its efforts did not attempt to challenge or compete with the rise of suburban shopping centers and malls.  Suburban shopping offered conveniences and advantages that downtown stores were simply not able to provide. Trying to compete with the suburbs on their own terms was a losing battle in the same way that a mom and pop retailer trying to compete with Walmart on price is not likely to succeed. Yet trying to compete with the suburbs was the premise behind many of the downtown pedestrian malls and they completely failed to address the actual reasons why people were abandoning downtown in the first place.

 

In Fort Worth, by contrast, the Bass family's successful efforts did not even attempt to take on or challenge the reality of the suburbs.  Instead, they found a way to differentiate downtown from the suburbs and drew up their plans and marketing to provide people with a reason for coming to downtown.

 

What they did was actually quite innovative:  in an era when the most vocal mindset held that old buildings and surviving remnants of the past were eyesores that needed to be removed in the name of sterile, Brutalist "progress" they fixed up and revived a bunch of old, decaying buildings.

 

Now, people could have done that all along. But observe that what they drew upon for their branding and marketing was something that no newfangled suburban shopping center could ever offer: a sense of place and a physical connection to our history and heritage.

 

Observe that the Basses named their effort Sundance Square after a late 19th century bank and train robber who visited downtown Fort Worth a handful of times.  But he wasn't just any random thug among the countless criminals who have spent time in our city - he had what you have to admit was a really cool and catchy nickname and one that was very well-known as a result of recent Hollywood movie depictions.  This was an era in which people still watched television and movie Westerns and a romanticized fascination with the Wild West still part of the popular culture.   And downtown Fort Worth was part of all that - and it offers a physical connection to the time, events and people of our past that you, too, can be part of by walking those exact same streets.  And that's kinda cool.  How many suburban shopping centers can offer that?

 

There are all sorts of other eras between the 1840s and today and countless famous individuals who have been to downtown Fort Worth just as often and most likely more often than the Sundance Kid that one could tell a fascinating story about and legitimately capitalize on.   But the Sundance angle was undoubtedly one of that made a lot of sense.

 

Of course, there was more to it than just fixing up buildings and marketing a slice of history.  It is not as if history museums and historical parks are overflowing with large crowds of visitors.  The history was the "hook" that got people's attention - but people need more than that to keep coming back after an initial visit.

 

The other thing they did was focus on attracting businesses that did not directly compete with suburban shopping centers - businesses that people visited during their leisure time.  Most people don't want to put up with time drains and hassles when running shopping errands - suburban shopping has a strong advantage in that area.  But people tend to do leisure type activities when they are not as pressed for time - thus downtown's convenience disadvantage is not as much of a factor when it comes to that.

 

Unlike the pedestrian malls of the 1960s and 1970s downtown Fort Worth did not fight the reality of the automobile- it accommodated it by providing plenty of parking.  Had the Basses instead lectured people that automobiles are evil and that one ought to ride the bus to Sundance Square, few would have bothered to show up.

 

And, importantly, downtown Fort Worth was able to successfully make people feel safe coming downtown during an era in which there was a widespread perception that the central city was high-crime and venturing downtown was dangerous.  In some parts of the country such a perception was valid - in others not so much.   But this is one of those cases where the perception sometimes is more influential than the actual reality.   And even if the decaying downtowns of the era were not actually dangerous, the decline meant that after business hours those remaining on the streets tended to be increasingly poor and destitute.  Most panhandlers aren't dangerous to anybody but themselves.  But even people who are highly compassionate about the plight of the homeless do not particularly enjoy being panhandled.

 

Over time, after the initial efforts were successful, enough critical mass was achieved in downtown Fort Worth to attract people for reasons other than the Wild West angle.  In fact, my guess is that there are plenty of young twenty somethings walking the streets of downtown who would would be hard-pressed to tell you who the Sundance Kid was.  Today a romanticized version of "urban" life is popular and there are people whose initial draw to the center city is based upon that.  But in both cases there is one common denominator:  people drawn to downtown based on a certain novelty factor of it NOT being like the suburbs.  Ask someone why they have moved to downtown or the central city and their answer will usually be that it offers them something that they cannot obtain in the suburbs.

 

The problem in the 1960s and 1970s was that there was no way to reverse the downward spiral that was happening in downtowns across the country.  They were experiencing a phenomenon similar to what we have seen in recent decades with "dying malls."   After a certain number of important tenants move out the mall begins to lose the critical mass of drawing power that its success depends on and it becomes increasingly difficult get it back.  Eventually, to at least bring in some sort of revenue, the owners resort to leasing space to technical schools, barber colleges and other businesses that need cheap rent but whose customers will go to pretty much anyplace they happen to be located.  At that point the only thing the mall has to offer tenants is cheap space.  Over time the low rent might not even be enough to cover the costs of maintenance - in which case it might make more sense for the owners to just close the building down entirely.

 

That is essentially what downtowns were experiencing in the 1960s and 1970s - and putting in a pedestrian mall was about as effective as a mall on its last legs building an improved food court without having signed up any tenants for it.  Yes, the automobile was a major influence on what was happening to downtowns in the 1960s and 1970s - but, as with dying malls, the same phenomenon can happen in cases were automobiles are not a factor. 

 

What the Basses did was not so much stop the downward spiral in downtown Fort Worth but rather start over and create a brand new upward spiral. It is example of why, rather than struggling to overcome one's weaknesses and disadvantages, the best course of action is often to mitigate them to whatever degree one can and instead focus on building upon one's strengths and the qualities that make one unique.


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#79 renamerusk

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 11:34 AM

 

 

(1) If people live in WR or CTR, they will be living there for reasons other than employment.  Why can't people live in Downtown for reasons other than employment?

 

 

And, by the way, one of the potential pitfalls of an area having a high concentration of renters - even if they are high end renters - is the area can go into a downward spiral very quickly if it falls out of favor.

 

If the downtown Fort Worth housing loses an important portion of its current market then either new markets must be found or downtown Fort Worth will undergo some not necessarily pleasant changes. 

 

You seem to think that just replacing that lost market (and a whole lot of other things as well) is easy because you see it as good and desirable.  Very few things that are worthwhile in life are easy - and dead-ends and failures are always more frequent than successes. 

 

Desire and optimism are great - but only when they are exercised in the context of looking at cold hard reality.  Otherwise it is no different than the child who, in response to being told by his father that the family is unable to afford a trip to Disney World replies: "That's silly Daddy - all you have to do is ask your boss for a pay raise. I'll start packing now."

 

 

Further evidence that the popularity for Housing/Hospitality segments for Downtown are on the upswing by this exepert from the Fort Worth Business Press 8/23/17 -

 

The six downtown buildings that XTO plans to vacate when it moves its energy division to Houston have had many lookers, particularly multi-family and hotel developers, Taft said.

 

"Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., said one of the biggest changes downtown is the number of people who choose to live there. And there are as many people under 40 as over 40 living in apartments and condos there, he said.....“It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s exciting,” Taft said. “There is a live, work, play environment that we’ve been promising for 40 years but we’ve finally delivered on in downtown that is centered on Sundance Square but is spreading beyond. We’ve seen it start to take root very successfully in West Seventh and the near Southside.”



#80 Doohickie

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 11:42 AM

"live, work, play" should be banned from the lexicon.


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#81 renamerusk

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 12:15 PM

"live, work, play" should be banned from the lexicon.

 

Why? Is there anything wrong about either living in Downtown; working in Downtown; and or playing in Downtown?



#82 JBB

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 12:22 PM

I can't speak for Doohickie, but I'm sure the implication isn't that the idea is wrong, just that the tagline is used with every...single...new...development.



#83 renamerusk

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 12:50 PM

So what is a better tagline.  I look for two things - (1) identifying the problem and (2) providing a solution.



#84 Doohickie

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 01:29 PM

Yeah.  It's already a cliche, complete with the commas.

 

I don't care what else one might use, but it would be better if it were original.


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#85 renamerusk

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 01:52 PM

Might these synonyms do it?

 

"Reside (live), employ yourself (work), party (play)"  :D 



#86 Doohickie

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 02:44 PM

Whatever.  The basic construct is overused.  Come up with something fresh is all I'm saying.


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#87 John T Roberts

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:15 PM

Isn't this what we see a lot of, these days?  Overused catch phrases, clichés, and downright copying seem to be the norm.



#88 renamerusk

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 07:50 PM

Isn't this what we see a lot of, these days?  Overused catch phrases, clichés, and downright copying seem to be the norm.

 

 Honestly, I'm open to hear an alternative, but in the same honesty, I do not find the cliches disagreeable as it describes what psychology reveals we actually need and want -

 

http://knowledge-lea...-is-incomplete/



#89 Doohickie

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 10:09 PM

In this case, it's used as a catch phrase. I think a catch phrase is something that should distinguish that to which it refers.  Reusing a trite catch phrase does not accomplish this.


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#90 rriojas71

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 11:08 AM

In this case, it's used as a catch phrase. I think a catch phrase is something that should distinguish that to which it refers.  Reusing a trite catch phrase does not accomplish this.


I mentioned that in another thread. It is waaaaay overused at this point. it's hard to stand out from every other development if you sound like every other development. It worked when it was initially used but now it's just played out. That is the problem nowadays. There are no fresh ideas and it's easier to just borrow, steal and re-hash something that has already been done. That is exactly what is wrong with the movie industry.

#91 renamerusk

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 07:59 PM

At minimum, there have been three comments unfavorable of the "work, live and play" lexicon.  Those comments have been recorded; and for whatever reason, they represent popular opinion.  Popular opinion is currently all the rage -"everyone deplores discrimination, la-da-dah."  But popular opinion is not enough when what is required is action to resolve a complaint or a something one does not like.

 

 It follows that an action in the form of an alternate lexicon be produced; such an alternate lexicon would be constructive and would be interesting to this discussion beyond simply decrying its usage.



#92 Russ Graham

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:45 AM

 the tagline is used with every...single...new...development.

 

Well, you wouldn't want a potential resident to think that they could, for example, only do two of the three if they sign a lease in your new development.  "What, I can only Work and Play here, but not Live?  No way man, I'm going down the street where I can Work, Play, and Live".



#93 Doohickie

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 08:22 AM

 It follows that an action in the form of an alternate lexicon be produced; such an alternate lexicon would be constructive and would be interesting to this discussion.

 

It's not my job to come up with alternate slogan.  It's for the marketeers who are writing these press releases.  It's *their* specific job to distinguish their communities/developments from others with which they compete.

 

My comment was really a one-liner that I never dreamed would spark this level of debate and for my part, I'm done talking about it and ready to move on.


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#94 renamerusk

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 08:46 AM

 

 It follows that an action in the form of an alternate lexicon be produced; such an alternate lexicon would be constructive and would be interesting to this discussion.

 

It's not my job to come up with alternate slogan.  It's for the marketeers who are writing these press releases.  It's *their* specific job to distinguish their communities/developments from others with which they compete.

 

My comment was really a one-liner that I never dreamed would spark this level of debate and for my part, I'm done talking about it and ready to move on.

 

This is a forum which is a place for discussion.  It is the best place to voice dissent and it is the best place to discuss solutions.  Today, people are long on complaining and short on providing answers.

 

Obviously, there is some level of dissatisfaction with the slogan; all that is being suggested is that along with the dissatisfaction comes some ideals.  Perhaps a better slogan will come out of some brainstorming. Who knows who actually reads this forum and what impact it can have on people with the power to make change.



#95 Dismuke

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 05:47 AM

I can't speak for Doohickie, but I'm sure the implication isn't that the idea is wrong, just that the tagline is used with every...single...new...development.

 

As long as they aren't describing it as "awesome."  That word was so overused a few years ago that I groaned anytime I heard someone use it - and I was hearing people use it constantly.

 

How about "Vegetate. Innovate. Recreate"?  And for good measure we could add "procreate."  That would spice things up a bit - and perhaps help increase demand for the units with extra bedrooms.  .


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#96 renamerusk

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 10:34 AM

A changing Downtown -

 

 

http://www.fortworth...4e210bb00c.html



#97 John T Roberts

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 04:22 PM

I see the website was mentioned in the article.



#98 renamerusk

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Posted 02 September 2017 - 07:14 PM

I see the website was mentioned in the article.

 

Not only a mention, but a link. :)



#99 tamtagon

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Posted 03 September 2017 - 06:29 PM

I see the website was mentioned in the article.

 

Rock On!



#100 johnfwd

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 05:50 AM

Use of these former XTO-owned buildings for more multi-family residential and hotel dwellings in downtown Fort Worth apparently won't affect current new hotel construction plans by Marriott and Hilton.  This is for the good.  But, despite extensive discussion here from proponents and opponents of a downtown aimed at  tourists and permanent residents, it's still a central business district.  It  needs a strong office and retail market.  






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