Fort Worth

‘Mule Alley:’ Fort Worth Stockyards About to Get Big New Addition

$75 million project re-purposing two old barns will be new Fort Worth attraction

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The first business is set to open Friday in a $75-million revamp of two old barns in the Fort Worth Stockyards, part of a massive expansion of the historic district.

For the last several years, workers have quietly been remaking two 100-year-old horse and mule barns which have sat vacant for decades.

The street between the barns, called “Mule Alley,” is the focal point of the new development.

A Shake Shack restaurant will be the first to open along historic Exchange Avenue.

Developer Craig Cavileer said the project was designed to keep the original flavor of the Old West.

"I think you're going to see something here that everyone is really proud of,” Cavileer said. “I think people are going to look back and say, 'What a faithful restoration of the Stockyards. We elevated it but we didn't make it too contemporary and modern.'"

Crews dug out six feet of soil from the barns and installed new concrete slabs – while trying to keep the buildings’ old look and character, he said.

A new roof and windows also have been installed and Mule Alley was completely re-paved by hand with 550,000 bricks.

The 180,000-square-feet of space -- 90,000-square-feet in each barn -- is being remade into shops and restaurants.

A large brewery will have a retractable roof.

"You hit a button and the whole roof opens to the sky,” Cavileer said.

They're creatively re-purposing all the history.

Hundred-year-old troughs, being made into benches where tourists can sit and watch the daily cattle drives.

Mule Alley will normally be open for traffic but can be closed off for special events like food or arts festivals.

Already visitors are giving it rave reviews.

"This place is pretty cool, I got to say," said Grant Sipos, a tourist from Arizona.

"I think it's a home run,” said Russell Waymire from California.

At the end of Mule Alley, a new upscale $100-million hotel, the Drover, is set to open in October.

Over the next several years, developers say they plan to pour $500 million more into the Stockyards with multi-family housing, retail and more entertainment venues.

The project is being managed by Fort Worth Heritage Development Company, a joint venture between Los Angeles-based Majestic Realty Co. and Hickman Companies of Fort Worth.

In April, Heritage Development will take over managing the city-owned Coliseum with plans to also spruce it up and add new types of entertainment.

The Stockyards already attracts about two million visitors a year.

With the new development, the hope is to double that number, Cavileer said.

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