By Mark Horvit and Bill Teeter
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
FORT WORTH - The TXU plant smokestacks, a signature sight in the central city for more than 50 years, could be coming down.
The city has approved demolition permits for the stacks and much of the rest of the old plant, which is on land being purchased by Tarrant County College for a future downtown campus.
The stacks present a safety hazard, said Tom Kleckner, a spokesman for TXU Power.
"There's a risk of pieces falling off and injuring someone," Kleckner said. Studies commissioned by TXU have shown that the stacks are unsafe, he said.
Mayor Mike Moncrief said that he was unaware of the demolition plans but that he would like to see the smokestacks saved if possible.
"Those smokestacks have been a landmark for our city for a long time," Moncrief said. "I would hate to lose them if they could be saved."
But safety must be the priority, he said.
"I would err on the side of caution," Moncrief said. "If there is a safety concern, you have to do what you have to do."
The taller stack was built in 1921, the other in 1950, Kleckner said. The plant, key to the development of downtown Fort Worth, was last used in 2002. Two older chimneys were demolished in the 1980s.
The decision to remove the stacks was made in talks between TXU and the college, Kleckner said.
Other portions of the plant will be removed as well. One boiler room will remain to be used by TCC.
"We realize the sentimental value that this has," Kleckner said.
Promoters of the Trinity Uptown plan said they had hoped that the stacks would be preserved to complement the $435 million flood-control and economic-development project. The stacks are featured in artists' renderings depicting future development in the area north of downtown and are considered a link to the area's past.
"We'd like to keep them," said Jim Oliver, general manager of the Tarrant Regional Water District, the agency spearheading the uptown plan.
Eight permits -- one for each stack and six of the smaller buildings on the property -- were applied for and issued June 2, said Development Director Bob Riley.
All such applications are sent to the planning department to be screened to make sure the structures have no official historic designation. If not, the permits are issued, Riley said.
Local historical-society members met with representatives of the college and Trinity Uptown project Tuesday to learn more about the demolition plans.
College officials could not be reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
James Toal, whose architectural design firm, Gideon Toal, has been working with TCC on its downtown campus, said the stacks will be demolished because of "life and safety issues. If we do things to bring people back to the river, they need to have faith that it's safe."
Edited by John T Roberts, 28 September 2005 - 05:47 PM.