Sale of a branch of the Central Library opens up opportunities for further development

With the sale of the Fort Worth Public Library’s 250,000-square-foot central branch at 500 W. Third St. for $18 million, the city can start a new phase of downtown development.

On December 13, the Fort Worth City Council voted to sell a three-story building and more than two acres of prime downtown real estate for $18 million to Dallas-based national investment firm Dart Interests LLC. Dart Interests has developed and owns real estate in several states, including California, South Carolina, New York, Florida and Texas. This will be the company’s first project in Fort Worth.

“This could definitely be a catalyst for this downtown northwest section,” said Jeff Johnson, executive vice president of development at Fort Worth’s Trademark Property Development.

“This is a great property and Sundance Square is within walking distance,” he said.

According to Johnson, the project is viable for residential and mixed-use developments that could spur further development in the area.

“It has great specs and a great location,” he said.

Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., a local governance and advocacy organization, said the library is a “rare opportunity.”

“It’s close to downtown and on Third Street, which is becoming an even more important link between the east and west parts of downtown,” he said.

According to him, the reconstruction of these two blocks on Third Street will be a significant addition to the “traversable core” in the city center.

The addition of these two blocks will also expand downtown towards Henderson Street and the new City Hall, expected to open in 2024.

While Dart Interests hasn’t released any designs for the property, most of the ideas for the property included a large residential component, Taft said.

“These residents will be within walking distance of the city center where workers, restaurants and shops operate,” he said.

The city first announced its plans to sell the Central Library building in February 2022, citing declining post-pandemic usage and low utilization rates. The listing, which was managed by real estate company JLL, required potential buyers to invest at least $100 million in the property and rebuild it into a mixed-use project with office and residential space.

The plan is to move the staff and materials currently at the Central Library to other branches and create a much smaller downtown presence, according to city officials. The city is currently studying where it will be located. The genealogical archive of the Central Library was moved back in October to the new FWPL History Center.

The Central Library building will be open until the summer of 2023.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at [email protected] At Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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