Four leaders founded the Panther City District project after businesses in the area decided the district needed to leave its mark on Fort Worth.
The effort aims to create a successful community of businesses that residents can recognize as a standalone district, said Rolando Guerrero, who is spearheading the project for Agency Habitat.
He mentioned the Cultural Arts District, Magnolia, and the Stockyards as successful examples.
“The goal is just helping business owners promote their businesses, creating that sense of community, to where we’re helping one another. That’s really the idea,” Guerrero said. “When everybody’s successful, then the general public will see this as a destination or place where they want to go.”
The district sits south of the Trinity River, bordered by University Drive to the west and Jacksboro Highway to the east.
The four leaders are Neil Foster, founder of Agency Habitat, Will James, CEO of Defender Outdoors, Robert Lydick of H/FW Capital Partners, and Will Churchill, owner of Fort Brewery.
In 2019, Foster bought a property at 2733 Cullen St. After a year of renovations, the former factory was transformed into a modern, simplistic but futuristic working space with a full-production photography studio, car garage, lounge areas, soundproof booths and a kitchen.
“He had the bones and he kind of built out the agency that you see here today,” Guerrero said. “Everybody that you bring over here is like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe something like this is here and somebody had the vision for this.’ They talked about emulating that in the other businesses.”
Guerrero has the same vision for the rest of the industrial buildings in the Panther City District.
Within the district are already well-known businesses like Fort Brewery and Pizza, Defender Outdoors, the Tarrant Area Food Bank, EnduraLAB, LanCarte Commercial Real Estate and most recently the United Way of Tarrant County and Novel Coffee Roasters.
“The fact that the United Way thanked us by name (at its ribbon cutting) speaks volumes,” Guerrero said about the district. “We’re still early on in this whole process. What I’m starting to find is it takes years for something like this to catch on or for businesses to build their own thing.”
He said he sees it as more of a marathon, rather than a sprint.
“It’s about community building,” Guerrero said.
Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. 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.