The Fort Worth City Council approved a $22 million economic development agreement with Cassco Land Company related to a

The Fort Worth City Council approved May 23 a $22 million economic development agreement with Cassco Land Company related to a planned $400 million expansion to the Clearfork development in west Fort Worth. 

The plan would see longtime auto dealership group Autobahn relocating to the site to spur development of a mixed-use project in the area.  The Autobahn Fort Worth dealership – which is now located at 3000 White Settlement Road, near the University Drive intersection – would become the anchor tenant.

For this second phase of the development, the Fort Worth City Council approved a 15-year Chapter 380 agreement with total grants capped at $22 million. Cassco would be required to make a minimum $350 million investment in the project, with $275 million in hard construction costs. The first half of the project would be completed by the end of 2026 and the second phase would be delivered by the end of 2028. 

The development would include 200,000 square feet of automobile showroom  and service space (or about three and one-half football fields) and a 1,750-space parking garage. 

Along with the automotive space, the plan would bring 300,000 square feet of new commercial space – office and retail – and 350 multifamily units. Clearfork’s second phase would take place on a 25-acre site northeast of the existing development. 

This project information from presentation to City Council at a May 16 work session. (Courtesy: City of Fort Worth)

One reason the automobile dealership relocation is attractive is because anchor retail stores, which are typically a cornerstone of retail developments, are weak now, said Michael Henning, economic development manager for the city of Fort Worth in his presentation to the City Council work session on May 16. 

That has forced developers to be more creative, Henning said. The relocation of the Autobahn dealerships would be a creative solution and also keep the dealership in Fort Worth as opposed to moving to a suburban location, he said. 

In an email  on the priorities for the economic development of this project, officials with the Fort Worth’s economic development department said the goal was to “find something with a large footprint to serve as an anchor tenant – such as the auto dealerships – while also providing opportunities for smaller retail and restaurant growth throughout the rest of the development.

“In terms of sales taxes, jobs and property taxes, none of that exists if the development isn’t successful or if it isn’t built in the first place – hence, the imperative need for an anchor.”

Economic development officials said the city is expected to recover its full incentive within five years of project completion.

The dealerships, which include Volvo, BMW, Porsche and Land Rover, would look more like an auto shopping experience in a larger city such as Chicago and New York, Henning said. Henning explained that auto dealerships there are more vertical and utilize garages rather than spread out like they typically are in Texas. 

The initial Clearfork mixed-use development totaled $300 million and saw the city enter into a 15-year 380 economic development agreement that granted up to 80% of incremental property and sales taxes. That grant is capped at $48 million. 

Cassco Development Co. partnered with Dallas-based Rosewood Property Co. on that initial development, which is located on a part of the 270 acres of the legendary Edwards Ranch on the banks of the Clear Fork of the Trinity River between Hulen Street and Bryant Irvin Road. The retail portion of that initial development, The Shops at Clearfork, an open-air luxury retail and mixed-use development, was developed and is managed with retail management giant Simon Properties. Founded in 1848, the family-owned Edwards Ranch once encompassed 7,000 acres in Fort Worth. 

Other economic development actions 

The City Council also approved a plan to nominate Bell Textron and Alcon Research for the  Texas Enterprise Zone Program. 

According to the documents prepared for the City Council, Alcon Research LLC, which is located ast 6201 S. Freeway, plans to make a capital investment of about $153 million in its manufacturing operations between the beginning of this year until June 2028.  If accepted for the enterprise zone, Alcon could receive a maximum of $1.25 million over a five-year period. 

Alcon Research commits to hiring 35% economically disadvantaged persons or enterprise zone residents or veterans for its new certified jobs at its Fort Worth facility during its enterprise project designation. No new jobs are anticipated at this time. Bell Textron plans to make a capital investment of nearly $36 million at its plant at 3255 Bell Flight Blvd. to purchase manufacturing equipment, complete renovation and upgrade information technology. 

Bell’s capital investments include $16.5 million to purchase Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft EMD Wing equipment to manufacture composite spars, stringers, and skins. The company plans to spend $2.6 million on renovations to the inspection room, engineering test labs and offices as well as $5.6 million on high performance computing hardware and related equipment. Bell Textron also plans to spend $11 million to complete an enterprise consolidation project, which will establish its digital enterprise capabilities.

No new jobs are anticipated from the spending. Bell Textron will commit to hiring 35% economically disadvantaged persons or enterprise zone residents for its certified jobs at its Fort Worth facility during its enterprise project designation.If the project is accepted by the enterprise zone, Alcon could receive a maximum benefit of $1.25 million over a five-year period. 

The Texas Enterprise Zone Program is an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the state of Texas to promote job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas of the state. 

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. 

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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...