As Dallas works to refine plans for a Trinity River Park without a road running through it, Fort Worth is already building parts of its Trinity River project.
The Fort Worth redevelopment area along the river will become what is now called Panther Island with construction of a new flood control bypass canal across a bend in the river north of downtown.
Bridges that would cross that future canal are under construction, even before digging of the canal that is slated to begin next year.
J.D. Granger, executive director of the Fort Worth Trinity River Vision Authority, said the redevelopment area on the new island doubles the size of the Fort Worth Central Business District.
“This is very much going to have a functional purpose for flood control, and on top of that a wonderful backdrop for development — a beautiful promenade all along the water’s edge, and immediately adjacent to that you’ll be able to dine and have great residential looking over the water every day,” Granger said.
A 300-unit apartment is due to break ground in December near what is planned to be an urban lake on the Trinity.
“It solves the majority of our flood issues in our community, which is a huge issue for us given our population growth,” Granger said.
Wednesday, Dallas City Council members made it clear they will kill the planned Dallas Trinity River Toll Road after years of fighting about it. Now, they'll concentrate on the proposed park in the Dallas Trinity Floodway.
“Ours is going to be over 200 acres — this park that we’re talking about — so it’s very, very big. It’s taken us longer,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.
The mayor said Dallas spent years working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan a project inside the Dallas levees with multiple versions of the road that city leaders now want to drop.
Rawlings said the $250 million park will be privately funded.
“And we had to raise the money, but now that we’ve gotten here, I think we’re going to go fast,” Rawlings said.
The Dallas City Council votes next week on ending the road project and creating a local government corporation to oversee the park project.
Rawlings said development around the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas over Woodall Rogers Freeway shows what riverfront development could attract.
“Imagine that going on both the north and south sides of the Trinity River in 20, 30 years. That’s going to be our new city center and I’m so excited to be a small part of it,” Rawlings said.
The Fort Worth Trinity Vision manager said he hopes both cities have tremendous riverfront development success because it can redefine the North Texas region.
“To be in a Texas city in a waterfront community in a landlocked area is a very, very unique opportunity,” Granger said. “So we’re working very hard to capitalize on it, because that’s something very special.”
Granger said 77 of the 80 land parcels needed for the new canal have been acquired. Fort Worth has spent $280 million of the $910 million budgeted for public improvements on the Trinity project. The money came from local, state and federal taxes, plus $320 million in tax increment financing based on projected future increases in property value.