The tax increment financing district used to provide funding for Panther Island voted Aug. 3 to support a plan that would extend the district’s operation for an additional 10 years. 

The unanimous vote approved a plan that supports the taxing district being extended an additional 10 years to 2054 and makes financing changes to the project. 

The approval of the extended taxing district and an amended project financing plan will require action by the Panther Island project partners: the city of Fort Worth, the Tarrant Regional Water District, Tarrant County, the hospital district and the Tarrant County College district. The Fort Worth City Council is expected to hold a public hearing Aug. 23 and consider a resolution to extend the taxing district, and the other entities are also expected to consider action in August. 

Michael Henning, economic development manager of Fort Worth’s Economic Development Department, told the board that as the taxing district grows in value over time, annual revenue increases significantly. That means the later years of the taxing district will increase its financing power as the district develops. The changes also will allow the taxing district funds to be used for debt service on the $250 million bond program that passed in 2018. 

Since the $403 million in federal funding was announced in January 2022, it has provided a “clear path going forward for how the overall funding of this project comes together,” Henning said.

“The proposed change to the TIF would put local partners in a position to unlock immediate resources and construct infrastructure sooner, which will support development faster,” Henning said in an email.

Tax increment financing districts are tools used by local governments to publicly pay for structural improvements and enhanced infrastructure within a defined area called a reinvestment zone using  property taxes from that area. 

The value of Panther Island district has grown more than five times since establishment with an 11.5% compound annual growth rate, Henning said. Land that was appraised at $32,850 an acre when the taxing district was established in 2003 is now appraised at $209,291 an acre today, he said. The taxing district has funded nearly $48.9 million in public improvements so far, he said.

The estimated $1.16 billion project received a boost in January 2022 when the federal approved $403 million in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to complete final designs and build a 1.5-mile bypass channel to reroute part of the Trinity just north of downtown Fort Worth. 

In May 2018, voters approved $250 million in bonds for the project to help fund the project as the expected federal dollars were not approved for several years and the funding for the project from oil and gas exploration and drilling was dwindling. 

The redevelopment of the area will increase Fort Worth’s tax base by bringing interest and investment back to the central city, according to the Trinity River Vision Authority, the governmental entity that coordinates the work in the Panther Island/Central City Flood Project.

While the federal, state and local dollars will be used to design and to reroute part of the Trinity River, private investment dollars ultimately will create the redevelopment into a high-density, mixed-use urban district north of downtown.

Panther Island project planners anticipate developers will build 10,000 housing units and 3 million square feet of commercial, retail and educational space for the area. 

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Bob Francis

Bob Francis is business editor for fortworthreport.org. He has been covering business news locally and nationally for many years. He can be reached at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org