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Member Since 22 May 2006
Offline Last Active Jul 31 2017 12:45 AM

#104578 2017 Forum Meetings - Last Friday of the Month 11:45

Posted by gdvanc on 30 July 2017 - 11:26 AM

It was good to see you all. Hipolyte, looking forward to the announcement of your new book.

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#104166 Former Amusement Park on Riverside Drive

Posted by gdvanc on 10 July 2017 - 09:12 AM

Your location seems accurate. According to Mike Nichols on his Hometown by Handlebar blog, there "yoostabe a modest amusement park, Southside Play Grounds & Miniature Golf" at 3121 S Riverside Dr, which is just south of Berry. He doesn't mention the locomotive, but does say it had a cigarette-smoking monkey.


The whole article (published just 4 months ago) is worth a read if you're into local history:


Cowtown Yoostabes, Sycamore Edition: Movies, Mobsters, and the Marlboro Monkey

#104163 Central Tourism District

Posted by gdvanc on 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.

#104160 Central Tourism District

Posted by gdvanc on 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.




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.

#104083 Public Art

Posted by gdvanc on 05 July 2017 - 10:26 PM

Wait, wait - they didn't get approval from the Federal Highway Administration or TxDOT to put the mass of concrete and steel on the side of the highway before spending money on it? Well isn't that just typical.


And the thought that it would be as iconic as the Hollywood sign is laughable.


The idea of having something iconic and memorable on the highways coming into Fort Worth isn't a bad idea. Set the tone, so to speak. Let 'em know they've arrived. And both I-30 coming in from our fat ugly sister to the east or 121 coming in from our half of the airport would be good places to start. The one on I-30 should also shout out a big "welcome home, commuters!"


It seems to me, though, that something like this would have been a great opportunity to get more people involved in the brainstorming. Maybe the public. Might've come up with something more interesting. Maybe this would have been fine - it's hard to tell. It sort of looks like it was created by an artist with little more than MS-Paint available to him. But I think with a larger public discussion we might have been able to generate some better concepts.


And what was that in the article about high-speed rail between Fort Worth and Dallas with a stop in Arlington?


Oh, hipolyte: that one will never work. Where are you going to find a bovine large enough for that vamp? It certainly couldn't be wholecut.

#104077 XTO Energy moving 1,600 employees to The Woodlands, selling six of seven buil...

Posted by gdvanc on 05 July 2017 - 04:10 PM

Once again I find myself wishing I had won a couple of those larger PowerBall drawings.


The reality is that constant pressure to reduce costs combined with an ever-shrinking reliance on physical proximity to business services (e.g., accounting and legal firms), among other things, will continue to push many companies away from the city core. This has been the trend for a while and doesn't seem likely to change in the near future.


Certainly there are still companies moving to - or expanding in - downtowns across the country. What makes them want to do so? What makes them willing to pay generally higher property costs to be downtown? Obviously there are a number of reasons; how is Fort Worth positioned in any of them?


And really, beyond this, what is our goal for downtown? What specific value did those thousands of XTO jobs represent? The better we can define that, the better we can identify other ways to provide that value should we find it difficult to bring in new jobs.


Here's hoping Simpson's MorningStar Partners will soon be ready to expand.

#101049 Website Redesign in the Works for 20th Anniversary

Posted by gdvanc on 07 February 2017 - 01:35 PM

Overall I like it quite a lot. WordPress is a great choice for this kind of web site.


I think what PeopleAreStrange is talking about is the parallax scrolling effect on the main page. (It's called 'parallax scrolling' as it was developed for left-and-right scrolling games to allow 'foreground' objects to scroll at a faster rate than 'background' objects, giving the illusion of depth.) On the main page, you can see this if you scroll down past the 'Most Popular Places' panel, you'll see a break in the white foreground panel revealing the brick wall background and the 'Quick and Easy Search' section begins to appear. You have to scroll until this section is at the top of the page before you can see all of it.


This is a technique that some web designers love because it looks cool but some users find annoying. People can get pretty religious about it. In your case, I think it's coming from Elated's Search and Go theme your site is using on WordPress.



One thing I noticed is the blue markers on the images under 'Most Popular Places' aren't intuitive. They appear to be meant to allow you to find related items; for instance, for the W T Waggoner building there are four: one searches for other Downtown buildings, one other Featured buildings, one other NRHP buildings and one other Sanguinet and Staats building. That's a really cool feature, but there isn't anything to indicate to an everyday user that the buttons do that. There really isn't anything to indicate that they have a separate function at all until you click on them. Further, when you arrive at the target page after clicking, you view a list of related buildings but it isn't clear how they're related. For example, the fourth button is a link to a search for Sanguinet and Staats buildings. When I hover over it, the only thing that indicates that it's going to a list S & S buildings is that my browser shows the link destination in the lower left corner - something a casual user might not notice. No other cue at all. When I click it, I go to a listing of 7 buildings - but apart from the URL field on my browser, there is nothing to tell me that I'm looking at a list of S & S buildings. (I've only tried it in Chrome.)



Anyway, these are only quibbles. As I said, I do like the site a lot. I look forward to watching its continued development. Great job!

#100990 Ok City - Elliot and Associates wraps Chesapeake car park in white fins

Posted by gdvanc on 05 February 2017 - 01:43 PM

Are you guys being sarcastic?  That is sterile and dead looking to me.  It looks better at night, but the day time view looks like it would be a big dead spot in the middle of any downtown.


My first impression was that it looked like a mid-century office building. Not beautiful as far as buildings go, but much better than most parking garages.

#100764 Another new Oakhurst Scenic development- Parkside

Posted by gdvanc on 22 January 2017 - 06:43 PM

Sure, and that happens a lot. However, it's usually just some number of residents near a proposed project reacting because of how they perceive that particular project will affect them. That doesn't have the same teeth as city policy or broad demands on standards of design and quality and fit from the broader community.


Of course, the city can't impose strict requirements for every development planned on the sprawling prairie within its city limits, but overall the city (the citizens or the government which represents them) does not show any interest in setting high standards apart from a few small areas with design overlays and the like. We're not even that good at historic preservation; what historic structures we have are for the most part still standing only because no one wanted to build anything on them.


Everyone Many on this form care about what gets built and where, but that is not representative of much of the population. None Few care about what is built in Fort Worth unless they see a direct impact on their own daily lives or property values.

#100740 TCU: Speaking of the Berry St. Initiative

Posted by gdvanc on 20 January 2017 - 09:51 AM

That is one of the cited reasons at this site.  I still don't see why they would be beneficial in this (and most) situation(s).

Well, when bicycles pull into the bike boxes, motorists will be reminded that bicycles are using the road, too, and the motorist will think to themselves, "Oh, yeah! There are cyclists in the area. I must be more cautious and courteous!"

#100736 Free Downtown Parking Being Revisited

Posted by gdvanc on 20 January 2017 - 09:03 AM

Oh, renamerusk, I fought cynicism for so long. End the end, though, I've found its proper use makes me much better at predicting the actions of those with power and influence.

#97099 Residence Inn at "Houston and 8th"

Posted by gdvanc on 26 April 2016 - 10:54 PM

Granted there is a surplus of vacant lots in Downtown but location is one of the pillars of real estate.


Another one is: "Not every lot is for sale."


Just because a site would work better for your project doesn't mean they have to sell it to you.*



*- for a reasonable price.**


** - ...or at all.

#96470 When DTFW gets a new skyscraper, where should it go?

Posted by gdvanc on 12 March 2016 - 02:36 PM

One area I would consider would be somewhere along Texas Street (which could be renamed "Park Place" with all its surface lots and garages and a city hall that blends in by trying very hard to look like a parking garage although it may not be quite that attractive). I think this would help fill in the skyline gap between 777/Burnett and Omni as viewed from 121 or from the southwest.


On the south side of the east end of the street there are a couple of lots. I think the one next to Jennings may be too small, but if I built on the other I'd like to build a companion building on the smaller lot to tie the streetscape in more closely with the buildings to the east. Retail/dining/etc. there would be convenient to the FWCC & Omni.


There is a small windowless building on the northeast corner of the larger lot that might have to be dealt with. Not sure if its part of the physical plant for city hall or what. Or maybe it's the oldest remaining example of small windowless buildings and should be protected. Not much street interaction, if that's important.


There are other lots further to the west that may help the skyline a bit more from some angles, but if you're trying to generate foot traffic they may be a bit too isolated just yet. Skylines are nice and make pretty postcards; compelling street scenes make better ones in my opinion and if I had the money to build a tower I'd have little interest in doing so just to make the skyline prettier.

#96233 Made a Twitter to cover urban development news

Posted by gdvanc on 25 February 2016 - 11:02 PM

Nice. I'm following you now - noticed a few other forumers there.

#95856 Ranch Style Factory

Posted by gdvanc on 31 January 2016 - 11:37 AM

I didn't see this posted anywhere else, but it looks like the old bean cannery is becoming another local craft brewery: Wild Acre Brewing. It was announced early last year and I believe is expected to open early this year. Based on the list on the Rodeo City Steak House thread, perhaps we should start a beer thread.