Fort Worth Business Press gears its content toward entrepreneurs and white-collar types who carry briefcases. We get it. But the paper’s pro-development mindset has clouded the judgment of its editorial board. A June 27 piece under the headline “Do-gooders’ meddling won’t stop Stockyards plan” mocks anyone who dares to doubt the good intentions of Majestic Realty, a California-based development company planning to add more hotels, retail stores, and who knows what to the fabled historic district. The Biz Press dubs people trying to rein in this “spectacular redevelopment program” as “obstructionists.” The paper describes the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a “band of D.C. do-gooders.” That nonprofit group’s crime? They dared to warn people that redevelopment could alter the character of the Stockyards.
The Biz Press assumes the D.C.-based preservationists don’t know diddly-squat about the Stockyards. “It’s obvious that all the Washington preservation crowd knows about this project is what they’ve been told by local opponents who apparently have convinced themselves –– and are trying to convince everyone else –– that this forward-looking injection of money and money-making growth into a long-dormant tourist destination will sound the death knell for Fort Worth’s Western heritage and the Stockyards’ cherished cowboy-and-cattle culture. It’s a ridiculous claim, but Fort Worth loves its history so it has gained traction in some circles.”
Talk about ridiculous claims. First off, the Stockyards is hardly “long-dormant.” It’s routinely listed among the state’s top tourist destinations. Second, when city officials try to pave the way for Stockyards redevelopment without seeking much input from the primary stakeholders (other than the Holt Hickman family, who is partnered with Majestic), it makes it look like city planners and the developers are going to do whatever they wish, regardless of how the locals feel. The Biz Press editorial points out that city officials are working with a task force of concerned citizens to develop guidelines to preserve the historical integrity. That’s true, but the task force meetings have been a joke. Those who have attended feel they’re being tolerated more than heard. They describe meetings as dog-and-pony shows meant to pacify people rather than include them.
The Business Press concludes by describing the redevelopment as “an exciting journey of progress and growth” and a “good thing.” Those descriptions may turn out to be true. Static sees a lot of promise in the redevelopment. But keep in mind that the developer could give two shits about Fort Worth’s heritage. And city officials are pretty much the same ones that pushed urban gas drilling down everybody’s throats, cater to the Bass brothers and Sundance Square at every opportunity, and are allowed the use of eminent domain to legally take people’s properties to make room for the Trinity River Vision, a for-profit development. Anyone, particularly newspaper writers, who place blind trust in city officials and developers might need a refresher course in Journalism 101.