Panel gives roadmap for future of Fort Worth’s Farrington Field

The 84-year-old Farrington Field and adjoining country house are set for revitalization, although questions remain over what it will look like.

The 84-year-old Farrington Field and adjoining country house are set for revitalization, although questions remain over what it will look like.

Joyce Marshall

Much remains unknown at the time about the future of Fort Worth’s Farrington Field.

A panel of experts from the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the nonprofit Urban Land Institute presented what they called a process rather than a product on how the land and the Billingsley Field House adjoining could be refurbished.

The 11-person panel spent the last two and a half days touring, researching and evaluating potential ways to develop the site. The city of Fort Worth and the school district each contributed $25,000 to support the group’s study.

First, the city and the school district must reach an agreement to determine which of the two will be primarily responsible for redeveloping the area. The property is currently co-owned, but the panel advised having a single point of contact to manage the project.

They suggested that the city would be better able to handle management rather than the school district. Development management is part of the city’s primary function, while the school district’s primary function is to educate, the panel said.

The city should also conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine how much it will cost to bring the facilities up to current building codes rather than just leaving the stadium and stadium alone, the panel advised.

Once that’s done, the city and district can determine if any form of redevelopment is worth it, said panel chair and real estate manager Frank Bliss.

There’s also a problem with what’s underground, said James Feild, director of development at Cienda Partners. Because Farrington Field was built in 1938, there are no good plans to tell exactly what kind of water and sewer infrastructure is under the building.

Feild shared his experience of a similar job site where lack of information about pre-World War II underground plumbing resulted in additional construction costs of $250,000 just to diagnose problems.

These unknowns must first be addressed before any development can begin, Bliss said. He estimated that they could be processed in four months.

Once the unknown costs were resolved, the committee offered to return and do another assessment of what the Farrington Field site might be. The second go-around would cost nothing extra.

The city would then convene an advisory council made up of community members with development experience. This committee would evaluate proposals from outside companies on how to redevelop the site.

This evaluation and selection process will include public comments and is expected to take approximately 12 months.

The panel estimated that any potential development could kick off within a year of developer selection. They estimated that it would take 10 years before any potential redevelopment could be completed.

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Harrison Mantas covers government, agencies and residents of the city of Fort Worth. He previously covered fact-checking and disinformation at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, as well as local, state and federal politics in Phoenix, Arizona and Washington, DC. He enjoys live-tweeting town hall meetings and helping his colleagues. The people of Fort Worth understand what is going on. Contact him by email at [email protected], Twitter @HarrisonMantas or by phone at 817-390-7040.

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