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Central Library branch sale opens door for additional development

Fort Worth Central Library
Cristian ArguetaSoto
/
Fort Worth Report
The Fort Worth Central Library will be sold to Dart Interests LLC after city council approval next week.

With the sale of the Fort Worth Public Library’s 250,000-square foot Central branch at 500 W. Third St. for $18 million, the city may jump- start another round of development downtown.

On Dec. 13, the Fort Worth City Council voted to sell the three-story building and the more than two acres of prime downtown real estate for $18 million to Dallas-based national real estate investment firm Dart Interests LLC. Dart Interests has done a variety of developments and owns properties in several states, including California, South Carolina, New York, Florida and Texas. This will be the company’s first project in Fort Worth.

“This clearly could be a catalyst for that northwest side of downtown,” said Jeff Johnson, executive vice president of development at Fort Worth’s Trademark Property Development.

“It’s great real estate and fairly walkable to Sundance Square,” he said.

The project is viable for residential and a mixed-use project that could spur further development in the area, Johnson said.

“It’s got some great attributes, and the location is great,” he said.

Andy Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., the area’s management and advocacy organization, said the library site is a “rare opportunity.”

“It’s close to the center of downtown, and it’s on Third Street, which is emerging as an even more important connector between the east and west sides of downtown,” he said.

The redevelopment of those two blocks on Third Street will be a meaningful addition to the downtown “walkable core,” he said.

Adding those two blocks also will stretch downtown toward Henderson Street and to the new City Hall, which is expected to open in 2024.

While Dart Interests has not released any designs for the property, most ideas for the property have included a large residential component, Taft said.

“Those residents would be within easy walking distance of downtown’s work, dining and shopping core,” he said.

The city first announced its plans to sell the Central Library building in February 2022, citing a decrease in usage since the pandemic shutdown and a low utilization rate. The listing, managed by real estate firm JLL, required prospective buyers to invest at least $100 million into the property and redevelop it as a mixed-use project with office and residential space.

The plan is to relocate the staff and materials currently housed in the Central Library to other branches and establish a much smaller presence downtown, according to the city. The city is currently studying where it will locate. The Central Library’s genealogical archives were moved back in October to the new FWPL History Center.

The Central Library building will remain open until the summer of 2023.

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.