Feature Illustration: HKS Architects rendering of the planned Hotel Drover. Courtesy: Stockyards Heritage Development Co.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Fort Worth (Tarrant County) — Stockyards Heritage Development Company has announced it has proceeded to the construction phase on the $175 million redevelopment of Mule Alley.
The project, which has been in planning stages for several years, requires the restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic Horse & Mule Barns at 122-124 East Exchange Avenue. Constructed circa 1910-1911, the red brick barn buildings have an iconic entrance at Exchange Avenue that is framed by a pair of two-story towers.
They were constructed to hold up to 3,000 animals for exhibit during the Stock Show, but are being renovated for retail tenant use.
Stockyards Heritage Development is a partnership of Fort Worth-based The Hickman Companies and Majestic Realty Co. of Industry, California. The investors issued a press release Aug. 9 to announce the work on the historic barns had begun.
Confirmed retail tenants coming to the horse and mule barns include Shake Shack and Second Rodeo restaurants, an unnamed concept restaurant by the owner of Clay Pigeon, The American Paint Horse Association, Simpli.fi, and a general store called MB Mercantile & Supply.
Also confirmed, RFD-TV will relocate its headquarters to the barns. The studios will be home to The Cowboy Channel and Rural Radio, holdings of Rural media Group.
The project also includes new construction south and southeast of the barns along the southern stretch of Mule Alley that leads to Northeast 23rd Street. Site work and demolition occurring here will make room for a 4-star Marriott Autograph boutique hotel to be known as Hotel Drover, and a Shake Shack restaurant.
According to a project report filed with the state by architect HKS Inc., Hotel Drover will be a 200-key hotel with a 200-seat restaurant and a 4,500-square-foot “event barn” for social receptions and meetings. Total meeting space will be 15,000 square feet.
The hotel project is scheduled to reach completion by December 2019 at a cost of about $35 million, HKS stated. The horse and mule barns’ restoration has an estimated cost of $45 million, according to the press release.
The listed ownership of the hotel is Stockyards Station Hotel II LLC and it’s being built under the direction of Craig Cavileer, executive vice president of Majestic Realty.
“The Stockyards present a unique challenge, but also a rare opportunity,” Cavileer stated in the announcement. “We knew from the moment we first visited the district over 20 years ago that this was a rare gem, a place people from all over the world visit for a taste of Texas and the West. That’s a tall order as a developer, but also an inspirational one. We have never taken it lightly.”
Hotel Drover is being described as a rustic-style resort. It will include a 97 West Kitchen and Bar, offering regional cuisine served in an environment that will feel like a true extension of the great ranch houses that inspired it, the release said.
The hotel will be constructed next to an existing Hyatt Place, but it will also be competing for clients from another recent project. Oldham Goodwin Group LLC broke ground in January on a SpringHill Suites that is being constructed by Arch-Con Corporation, a design-build general contractor. The hotel is located in the 2300 block of North Main Street, just across Marine Creek from Mule Alley.
The 133,000-square-foot SpringHill Suites was designed by Atlanta-based Niles Bolton Associates and Dallas-based interior designer Studio 11 Design.
Hunter Goodwin, president and COO of Oldham Goodwin, said of the 170-room hotel, “We have customized the design to fit with the look and feel of the Stockyards, as well as incorporated many full-service concepts into our offered programming. The hotel will offer guests the opportunity to experience all that the Stockyards has to offer, including a skyline view of downtown Fort Worth and five-star cuisine.”
It is expected to open in the summer of 2019.
City Council created a tax increment finance zone in 2014 to spur redevelopment of the Fort Worth Stockyards. It was their expectation that the 925-acre TIF district could attract about $185 million of private investment, if the city was willing to help finance new infrastructure through tax increment financing.
TIF related public improvement projects, in cooperation with Tarrant County, were to total about $40.5 million. Projects included improvements to roads, utilities, landscaping, sidewalks, parking, demolition of non-contributing buildings, and historic building facade restorations.