Fort Worth’s downtown real estate market is adapting to new realities including increased interest rates and changes in the office market since the pandemic. 

During a presentation to the 2023 Real Estate Forecast presented by the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, Cannon Camp, executive vice president of JLL in Fort Worth, highlighted several changes in the class-B office market downtown that saw three office properties converted into new uses.

Class-B office properties generally lack the same amenities and build-out features as higher-end office buildings.

ICON Lodging in March 2022 purchased the 11-story, 101,390-square-foot office building known as the Bob R. Simpson Building. It was the last asset of the former XTO Energy buildings in downtown Fort Worth to be sold. ICON plans to convert the building to a hotel, Camp said. 

The Oil & Gas building, a 16-story office building that opened in 1952 at 309 W. 7th St., was purchased by Dallas-based property investor and developer Bluelofts Inc. The high-rise is planned to become apartments and retail. 

“We’re going to have 180 units and retail and a restaurant on the ground floor,” said John Williams of Bluelofts. 

Oil & Gas building team. Kenneth Wolfe, President of Wolfe Investments LLC, Ike Bams, co-founder of Bluelofts and John Williams, co-founder of Bluelofts. (Photo courtesy of Bluelofts) 

Bluelofts teamed up with Plano-based Wolfe Investments, headed by Kenneth Wolfe, in the purchase. The property had been marketed by Younger Partners. 

“We plan to start work this year,” said Bluelofts’ Ike Barns. “We hope to complete construction within the next 24 months.” 

The 16-story Fort Worth National Bank building will convert from an office building to apartments with a ground floor retail component. The tower, 115 W. Seventh St., was originally the Fort Worth National Bank building, then later occupied by Oncor. Chicago-based 3L Real Estate acquired the building, with plans to convert it into apartments. 

Those projects — along with the Deco 969 high-rise project at 969 Commerce St., which should hit the market with more than 300 units later this year — will bring more residents to the central city, Camp said. 

“I’ve been really impressed with developers looking at opportunities downtown and understanding that this may not be exactly the product that corporate America wants and there may be challenges re-leasing it,” Camp said. 

Downtown has recently seen some other big shake ups, too. The city sold the two-block Central Library branch to Dallas-based Dart Interest for redevelopment. And Dickies, the 105-year-old apparel brand, signed a lease for nearly 70,000 square feet at The Tower Annex and plans to move its headquarters from the Near Southside.

Camp sees taking buildings out of the class-B office inventory downtown and converting the projects to residential properties as good news for the central business district. He expects the moves will bring additional residents downtown.

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 FrancisBusiness Editor

Robert Francis is a Fort Worth native and journalist who has extensive experience covering business and technology locally, nationally and internationally. He is also a former president of the local Society...