The Market’s Off the Market

The historic Fort Worth Public Market is officially off the market after being purchased by oil & gas mogul Bob Simpson, co-founder of XTO Energy and co-chairman of the Texas Rangers baseball team. The seller was represented by Holt Lunsford Commercial, but Simpson was represented by Keith Webster with KWR Consulting.

Constructed in 1931, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the structure managed to be successful for a decade until succumbing to the failing market in 1941. Will its redevelopment overcome the hard hit on real estate since 2008 and come at just the right time in our modern economic situation?

Since the end of the original use of the Spanish Colonial style building as a public marketplace, with 145 farmer/vendor stalls and 30 permanent retail shops, the building has housed aircraft manufacturers during WWII, Cadillac Plastics, and an aviation manufacturer until becoming vacant in 2004. Since that time, the area has experienced a tremendous influx of residential and entertainment-based development.

With the beleaguered but successful and ongoing mixed-use residential/restaurant restoration of T&P station, which was constructed the same year as the Public Market. and the massive mixed-use development of the West 7th area, industrial manufacturing would no longer appear to be the highest and best use for this building. While these outdoor restaurant/retail spaces have been a success, perhaps there is room for an indoor restaurant/retail mixed use development, geared toward providing a unique opportunity for more organic and low-key vendors. Farmer’s markets and food trucks are popping up in and around downtown, but when it is 108 degrees outside, having an indoor option could be a boom.

The best news? The “Demolition Day” protection created by the city will no longer be needed. While Simpson has not yet decided how to re-purpose the Public Market, he is considering restoring it to its original purpose, as a place for residents of Fort Worth to buy local produce. He has recently undertaken the restoration of the former Star-Telegram building, so we can only hope he has a love for historic restoration and it will be nice to see this landmark safely removed from the endangered places list.

For those of you living near downtown Fort Worth, what would you like to see the Public Market become?

KW Net Lease Advisors