A Fort Worth group is asking school officials to protect three properties that may be sold by the district if the plan is approved.
Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, said the group is not against the sale but wants to see the district continue to be, “steward leaders” of the properties in question: Farrington Field, the Jack A. Billingsley Field House and the Boulevard Heights Transition Center.
“They’ve done a great job of caring for these properties for decades but now before they sell them, if they would landmark them locally – that would be step one – then they would feel good about their future and so would the rest of the community," Tracy said.
Collectively, the three buildings have been part of the city between 70 and 100 years and “they deserve a future in it,” the group wrote in a recent memo.
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Tracy went on to say it could serve the district well if school officials submitted a nomination for the properties to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It would give them access to tax credits from both the state and federal government, she said.
“Rather than be lost, let’s landmark them and let the creativity that comes from developers who know how to adapt a great building and pick up the money that could also help with those costs,” she said. “We don’t want to cast the fate to the wind of those distinctive buildings that really define who we are. No one else has them. We’re so lucky to have them."
The three properties are part of the 18 identified by the district late last year as underused and inefficient facilities. If the plan is approved by the Board of Trustees and the properties are sold, the district is expected to net approximately $60 million from real estate sales and downsizing.
Proceeds would improve existing stadiums in east and southeast Fort Worth. It would also go towards building two new stadiums, according to district spokesperson Clint Bond.
Bond said the district may look into the suggestion of landmarking. However, they are still in the early stages of the plan. The board was briefed this week and has questions, Bond said.
He said what is certain at this point, is the district’s recognition that Farrington Field has sentimental value for many people in Fort Worth. The plan has never been to sell it and move forward without preserving the iconic façade, he said.
If it is sold, there will be restrictions on what can be built and how.
“We have many people who scored their one touchdown or winning touchdown in that particular facility, so it’s not that we’re looking to destroy it,” Bond said.
Bond added, Billingsley Field House will be a “tougher discussion” because experts have suggested the building has reached the end of its service and would cost more to upgrade than to do anything else with it.
As for the Boulevard Heights Transition Center, it is “at the end of the list,” according to Bond.
“We’re not sure yet what we’ll do with Boulevard Heights. We identified Boulevard Heights that could be of benefit to us if we did sell it,” he said.
Ultimately, he said the decisions need to be right for the community – not rushed.
Tracy said she has met with Fort Worth ISD superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner about the group’s position. The talks have been collaborative, she said.