Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
Fort Worth decided to forgo the traditional golden shovels, opting for colorful confetti to celebrate the new construction project in Sundance Square.
Civic and city leaders broke ground Wednesday morning on a major construction project that will reconfigure the look of Fort Worth's Sundance Square.
Two surface parking lots along Main Street between Third and Fourth streets have already been closed down. In their places, two buildings will go up along with a green space plaza. A third building will go up a block to the west along Throckmorton Street.
The estimated price tag for the project, which is should be complete in 2013, is more than $100 million.
No dirt was turned during the ceremony, but Mayor Betsy Price, Councilman Joel Burns, Sundance CEO Johnny Campbell and philanthropist and Sundance developer Ed Bass fired off confetti.
Bass said the plaza area that exists now has hosted many events but has always left something to be desired.
"The event space that we've had here for 30 years has had really lousy landscaping," Bass said. "And instead of asphalt and cars during the day, we're going to have pavers, water feature and trees."
The final designs for the plaza have not yet been finalized, but the three buildings' names were announced on Wednesday.
On the eastern side of the plaza running along Commerce Street is the appropriately named Commerce Building. The Westbrook building will go up on Houston Street on the west side of the plaza where the old Westbrook Hotel sat until the late 1970s. Both buildings should be completed by December 2013. The third building, the Cassidy Building, is a block to the west.
The proposed plans have been in the works for nearly 30 years. And while a change to the face of downtown might be hard for some to adjust to, Bass said it's necessary.
"If you aren't improving, if you aren't building, you're going downhill," he said. "Every generation has to update, remake, expand upon their city."
Price agreed, saying the buildings will help with the economic growth in the area and prove that Fort Worth is worth investing in.
"Older cities have to stay fresh and vibrate for the community," she said. "Here in Fort Worth, we've certainly done that."
The 215 parking spaces in the two lots that have been closed to make way for the new development will be absorbed by nearby parking garages, according to Sundance Square officials. The third area parking lot was designed with the surface lot closures in mind.