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Fort Worth Omni expansion part of $2 billion in planned downtown development

Omni Fort Worth is renewing plans for a $217 million, 400-room expansion after pausing during COVID-19 pandemic.

FORT WORTH, Texas — An expansion of the Omni Fort Worth Hotel is the latest in a long list of development projects in the city’s downtown.

At a city council meeting Tuesday, Robert Sturns, the head of Fort Worth’s economic development department, presented plans for the Omni’s expansion which had been paused shortly after approval in early 2020.

Omni’s expansion would cost $217 million and includes 400 rooms, 50,000 square feet of meeting space and 15,000 square feet of restaurant space, with completion possible by the end of 2026. It would give the hotel a total of 1,008 rooms across two blocks and build the new tower on the current site of Tarrant Community College’s admin building.

The city would provide $53 million in incentives towards the project.

“I think we’re going to see new hotels and the Omni is the first one out of the box,” Andy Taft, the president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., said.

Downtown Fort Worth Inc’s data shows just over $1 billion of hospitality development and more than $500 million in multi-family housing planned or under construction downtown.

Fort Worth’s downtown may have once been alive from just 9 to 5, but that’s changing as quickly as concrete can be poured.

“It’s all unbelievable and it’s all very pleasant,” said Adam Jones, a Fort Worth restaurateur with two restaurants downtown. “There’s just a lot of positive things happening for restaurants and for Fort Worth in general.”

Jones runs restaurants Grace and Little Red Wasp, both a block from the city’s convention center and will open Osteria 61, a third downtown spot, next to Burnett Park this November. Few are feeling the city center’s growth more than him.

“We’re growing at such a rate and such a speed to the benefit to the businessperson, to the hotel operator, to the restaurateur,” he said.

Most of the planned and under construction growth is on downtown’s south side, including a major expansion from Texas A&M that will construct towers where surface lots currently sit near the I-30 and I-35W interchange. Like Dallas, Fort Worth also plans a major change to its convention center. It will demolish the arena portion and build an expansion to its current center along with renovations to the existing structure.

“They’re not proud of surface parking lots,” Taft said. “They’re proud of new restaurants, new retail.”

One of the southeast side highlights is a new 27-story, 400-unit high rise named Deco 969, which is well underway. In total, Downtown Fort Worth Inc. expects planned of under construction projects to add around 4,000 new multi-family units and roughly 1,500 hotel rooms.

“The timing in Fort Worth is just really perfect to make things happen,” Jones said. “I think the growth is good for everybody.”

Taft believes the movement away from downtowns that accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic has peaked. Together with expected growth from the long-planned Panther Island project on the north end of downtown, he says development will only continue.

“It’s all reinforcing the momentum of the entire center city which for a very long time was very sleepy and now it’s coming back, coming back strong,” he said. “The next ten years is more people, more things to do and more to be proud of.”

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