FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A shower of confetti launched the official makeover of Sundance Square Wednesday, even though crews began working on the massive downtown upgrade a week ago.
Additional retail, commercial and living space in three new buildings will border a large public plaza. The 275,000 square feet of new building space and the plaza were part of the original Sundance Square designs 20 years ago.
“We’re finishing up additional buildings down here,” said Councilman Joel Burns, who represents that district. “It will add to our property tax base, will add to our amenities we’ll have for choices in shopping and things to do downtown.”
“There’s not a better example anywhere in the nation of the public private partnership than we have here in Fort Worth,” Mayor Betsy Price said during the so-called groundbreaking ceremony.
The public portion of that partnership is costing more than $13 million in tax dollars. That money, though, is all collected in the downtown area by taking a small percentage of its sales and property taxes.
“So, it’s not taxes that come from any other part of the city or like that,” said Jay Chapa, Fort Worth’s Director of Economic Development. The project has to create the taxes for them to be able to receive the benefit of the infrastructure projects going on.
The idea is as soon as the new buildings and businesses are up and running, their new tax revenues will actually be paying back the city’s investments.
The owner of Saviano’s Italian Restaurant, on the corner of Houston and 3rd, is already welcoming the influx of new construction workers coming in to eat.
But eventually, those same workers will be tearing down Saviano’s corner location to make room for a new building. The restaurant’s owner knew when he opened he’d eventually have to move, but he says the Sundance plan is a recipe for business success.
“We’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now,” Giacomo Alfieri, Saviano’s owner. “And we’re looking forward to moving into one of the new buildings down here. It’s going to change the whole dynamic of Sundance.”
Visitors will have something to look at besides construction equipment, though.
The construction site barricades are decorated with a comic strip. The Sundance Kid comes into the future to see the square bearing his name and helps illustrate what all the construction is about.