FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth is sending out a request to developers to submit ideas about building a 1,000 room hotel next to it’s convention center in the south end of downtown. The move coincides with continuing assessments to replace the 50-year old “flying saucer” arena on the north end of the convention center. That is welcome news to businesses on the fringe of the convention center foot traffic.
“Its the Flatiron District,” said Amanda Jimenez who works at La Perla Negra, a relatively new restaurant and Tequila bar on Houston Street a block north and west of the convention center. “That’s what we’re starting it up as because of the Flatiron Building.”
The Flatiron Building is an oddly shaped building on the corner of Houston and 9th across the street from the old arena at the convention center. It was one of the city’s first steel frame buildings built in 1907 and at one point was the tallest buildings in north Texas.
As convention center visitors exit the saucer-shaped north end of the building they’re funneled onto Main Street and most don’t see the businesses on Houston just a block away. And that means fewer customers and fewer dollars for restaurants like la Perla Negra.
“Everyone tends to go towards Sundance,” Jimenez said. “We’re sort of the only thing on the south end. There’s a few blocks in between that or a void boy. So it’s hard to get people to come out.”
But that could change as Fort Worth gives the area a massive face lift. The city would straighten a bending stretch of Commerce on the east of the convention center making room for a massive, privately built, 1,000 room hotel to help keep pace with rival convention centers.
“What we are seeing in Austin and some other big, competitive cities they’re doing the same thing, additional hotels there and then in Houston and other places,” said Fort Worth Public Events Coordinator Kirk Slaughter.
And the city will hire an architect to begin assessing how much of the convention center will be upgraded as the hotel is added. Looking around the arena area it’s easy to see why they want to tear it down entirely. In its place they’ll build a new building with 200,000 square feet more space. It would also encourage people to walk in and out from Commerce and Houston Streets.
“It would draw more people over toward the side of Houston Street as opposed to Main,” Jimenez said. “So, it would give people more options which is good, these places will sell. I think it will be good overall. So, we are excited.”
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