A national urban design company will map out the future of real estate development in and around Panther Island.

HR&A Advisors Inc., a nearly 50-year-old consulting firm, won a $560,000 consulting contract with the Fort Worth City Council. HR&A has worked on a number of public and private projects nationwide, including an economic development and mobility strategy for Grand Rapids, Michigan, an Anacostia waterfront initiative in Washington, D.C., and a real estate development project in San Antonio.

HR&A will serve as project manager and lead a consulting team that includes civil engineering firm, Salcedo Group Inc.; urban planning and design firm, Lake Flato; and community engagement and outreach firm, K Strategies, according to a news release from the city. 

In Fort Worth, the consulting firm will be tasked with making sense of the changing value of about 440 acres of land surrounding the The Central City Flood Project, more widely known as the Panther Island Project. The firm will assess existing plans for the area, perform case studies, create a development strategy and identify potential funding sources. The city envisions that a successful project will double the size of downtown.

“The pieces are really coming together for Panther Island,” said Robert Sturns, economic development director for the city of Fort Worth, in the news release. “Local partners and the business community are making a strong economic development push at the district, but we want to be smart about how we do it.”

Planned bypass channels will take traditionally industrial areas and open them for other uses, including retail, office space, residential, hotels and even a corporate campus, project partners previously told the Report. Only single-family subdivisions and heavy industrial uses are out of the question, assistant city manager Dana Burghdoff said. 

The Tarrant Regional Water District owns over 130 acres of that land, including LaGrave Field. 

Tarrant County College owns about 20 acres of property on the island, and Houston-based Panther Acquisition Partners has acquired about 25 acres over several years.

The majority of the contract’s funding, $435,000, will come from outside sources. These include Tarrant County, Tarrant Regional Water District, Tarrant County College, Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., Streams & Valleys, Inc., and The Greater Fort Worth Real Estate Council Inc.

The remainder of the necessary funding was shifted from the city’s non-departmental portion of the general fund to the planning and analytics department, where it can be used for the consulting contract. 

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Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at emily.wolf@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

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Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Round Rock, Texas, she spent several years at the University of Missouri-Columbia majoring in investigative...