Updates to Include Renovation of Mule Alley and Addition of Hotel Drover to Historic Exchange Avenue
Fort Worth, Texas (August 9, 2018) – Stockyards Heritage Development Company, a partnership between Majestic Realty Co. and The Hickman Companies, has unveiled plans to continue evolving the City’s Western legacy through its renovation of the historic Horse and Mule Barns in the iconic Fort Worth Stockyards. Additional plans were shared with key city officials and Historic District stakeholders today for improvements to the Stockyards’ Exchange Avenue, and the building of an Autograph Collection 4-star boutique hotel, event barn and rustic resort, Hotel Drover, at the end of Mule Alley’s planned street of shops, eateries, creative office spaces and live-entertainment venues.
The development intention and vision takes inspiration from the rich history the Stockyards offers, and tells that story through a carefully curated offering of destinations that feel compatible with the district’s heritage, uniqueness and grit.
“The Stockyards present a unique challenge, but also a rare opportunity,” said Craig Cavileer, Executive Vice President of Majestic Realty Co./Stockyards Heritage Development Company. “We knew from the moment we first visited the district over 20 years ago that this was a rare gem…a place people from all over the world visit for a taste of Texas and the West. Not just the animals and the buildings, although they’re a huge part of it, but the freedom, spirit, and character of the cowboys, cowgirls and cattle culture that shaped Texas into what it is today. That’s a tall order as a developer, but also an inspirational one. We have never taken it lightly.”
The project, a public/private partnership with the City of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, will re-emerge as a sensitively restored destination within the Stockyards Historic District. The project’s first phase has just broken ground, launching the $175 million renovation and ground-up development that has been carefully master-planned and meticulously designed over the past several years.
Brad Hickman, President of Hickman Investments and son of legendary Fort Worth Stockyards supporter and benefactor Holt Hickman, continues his father’s mission and legacy to preserve this national treasure and revitalize it for generations to come.
“My father, who passed away in 2014, would be so moved to see the care and thoughtfulness being poured into this new chapter in the Stockyard’s history. This is not just real estate development – it’s so much more. When we came together with Ed Roski, Majestic’s Chairman, and Craig Cavileer and the team he has assembled, it was evident they saw my father’s vision. They’ve spent years getting to know and understand this place, and what it means to the City of Fort Worth. This is a long-term investment, but more importantly a long-term commitment to revitalize an icon without changing the essence of what has always made it special.”
The collection of new businesses that will call Mule Alley home is interesting and eclectic, and will ultimately reflect some of the best restaurateurs, merchants, artisans and entrepreneurs Texas will offer in one place. More tenants are showing interest every day. “We are taking our time, making sure new residents of Mule Alley fit the character of the Stockyards, and we’re encouraging our leasing team to think creatively about the mix”, states Cavileer. “We would rather take a risk with an inventive tenant than play it safe with a chain that brings little to the table. We’re not looking to overly commercialize the Stockyards, we’re looking to make it even more exciting and broaden its appeal for locals as well as guests from Texas, the U.S. and around the world.”
In success, the overall effect will bring renewed energy and a unique sense of place that reimagines what a historic district and thriving market street can be. Several tenants are being announced, with more in advanced discussions to be revealed later on. Currently, confirmed tenants include:
- Second Rodeo Brewing Co. – Chef Jason Boso, most notably known for the wildly popular Truck Yard in Dallas and Houston and Twisted Root restaurants throughout the Metroplex, brings a new “brewpub meets live music hall” concept to Fort Worth. Brewing signature beer on-site alongside a creative street taco menu, Jason invites everyone to have a brew, taste some delicious food, enjoy live music and stay awhile. His 12,000 sq. foot barn will overlook Marine Creek with a picturesque patio nestled among giant oaks, also featuring indoor/outdoor seating under a massive retractable roof, serving up a good time inside and out.
- A new concept (name TBD) from Chef Marcus Paslay – Executive Chef and owner Marcus Paslay is no stranger to Fort Worth. His beloved Clay Pigeon and Piattello Italian Kitchen have attracted ardent fans, and his new Stockyards concept is certain to follow suit. His American fare with an emphasis on grilled and smoked meats and barbeque served in a creatively rustic western ambience will feature an open kitchen with wood-burning grills and rotisserie smokers. The use of raw, unpolished materials and artwork inspired by the cowboy & country music heritage of the Stockyards will set the stage for an amazing food and beverage experience on Exchange Avenue adjacent to Mule Alley.
- Shake Shack – Welcoming this hugely popular restaurant to the Stockyards for its first, exclusive Fort Worth location, this is much more than a fast casual chain. In fact, it’s nothing short of an industry phenomenon. Since its humble beginnings as a hotdog cart in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack is coveted by landlords nationwide for reinventing the notion of what a “chain” looks like. The food is fantastic, sales numbers are almost too good to be true, and with 168 locations across the country, this eatery is just hitting its stride. Each store reflects the character of the neighborhood surrounding it, and FW Heritage is encouraging Shake Shack to channel their inner cowboy when designing their new Stockyards store!
- American Paint Horse Association – A Fort Worth native, APHA is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than one million horses in 59 nations since it was founded. Billy Smith, the Association’s Executive Director, was one of the first to see the Heritage vision and embrace the value in locating his organization’s headquarters in the Stockyards, seizing an opportunity to put the Paint Horse’s story before a worldwide base of Western cultureloving fans. More than merely an office, though, APHA’s new location will be a Paint Horse destination. It is envisioned as a must-see stop for visitors hungry for the honesty of the Western lifestyle and a home-away-from-home for APHA members from across the globe. With offices, theatre, retail gallery and museum-like environment where education and exposure to these beautiful and unique animals can be experienced, this very special Mule Alley tenant will celebrate the Paint with passion and pride.
- Simpli.fi. – If you’re going to go-local with “creative office” in dramatic spaces like the Horse and Mule Barns, you need to bring creative, forward-thinking tenants to the table. Simpli.fi. is just that. This highly successful Fort Worth company is bringing over 450 skilled professionals to the Fort Worth Stockyards daily. A leader in localized Internet advertising and sophisticated analytics, Simpli.fi. represents a dynamic workforce who will no doubt embrace the Stockyards as a one-of-a-kind opportunity to work, dine, shop and spend time in a place that is a far cry from your standard office park. Talk about a creative campus!
- RFD HQ and STUDIOS – The new headquarters of RFD-TV, The Cowboy Channel, and Rural Radio, all part of Rural Media Group, now occupies a free-standing HQ building on Exchange Avenue and will also create a brand new broadcast studio open to the public in the historic Auction Barn adjacent to the Livestock Exchange Bldg. RFD will have office, retail, and entertainment broadcast facilities at the Stockyards, placing them in the heart of the Historic District. With their focus on rural lifestyle, western sports and entertainment and a day-to-day emphasis on programming centered on the cowboy and cowgirl, they perfectly match the DNA of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Rural Media Group (RMG) is the parent company, started and still run by Patrick Gottsch and his team, with a mission to reconnect “city with country”. Their networks reach over 100 million homes worldwide each day to do just that.
- MB Mercantile & Supply – Inspired by the earliest general stores with a modern twist, MB Mercantile is an exciting emporium of carefully curated goods that locals and tourists, souvenir hunters and memory gatherers will flock to. Fans of all things warmly rustic, charmingly vintage and wonderfully western will fall in love at first sight! Gifts, home décor, vintage finds, stationery, apothecary, books and specially selected artisan goods will give this Mule Barns flagship store an exciting sense of discovery. And a surprise tasty food concept embedded within the store’s engaging interior will delight shoppers and offer a cool treat on a warm day during a stroll down Mule Alley.
- Hotel Drover – The anchor and crown jewel of the Stockyards and Mule Alley is Stockyards Heritage Development Co.’s own Hotel Drover, with a planned opening in spring, 2020. Part of the Marriott Autograph Collection of hotels, this stunning 4- Star property will feature 200 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, as well as 15,000 square feet of meeting space and a dramatic, elegant barn for weddings, meetings, and social events.
The one-of-a-kind property will showcase 97 West Kitchen and Bar, featuring regional cuisine served up in a show-stopping environment that will feel like a true extension of the great ranch houses that inspired it. A charming café/lounge spills out onto the hotel’s front courtyard with a rustic fountain and seating under the trees. The residential-scaled lobby, with its stunning views of the backyard beyond, will feature a library, dramatic fireplace, and comfortable seating areas with custom designed furnishings carefully chosen for their character and artisanal craftsmanship. The hotel’s backyard will offer fire pits, lushly landscaped pool area, and paths to stroll Marine Creek. At sundown, live music under the stars and twinkle-lit trees will beckon guests to linger.
A celebration of the Stockyards and the West itself, Hotel Drover will boast a true western aesthetic, marrying handcrafted elements with genuine Texas hospitality. The hotel’s name pays homage to the legendary Drovers who embodied the true spirit of the west as they herded cattle along the Chisholm Trail to market in Fort Worth. Their story will be woven throughout the hotel in artful and unexpected ways.
Throughout the evolution of this ambitious project, Stockyards Heritage has had strong support from the City of Fort Worth, a relationship Cavileer describes as “Nothing short of a true partnership. We’ve never taken it for granted, nor has it always been easy, but in the end, I think the City knows we have their best interests at heart and are creating an asset Fort Worth will be proud of.” Mayor Betsy Price echoes this sentiment. “We have watched the progress every step of the way and have been vocal about what we want to see in the Stockyards. It’s essential to our history, and to our vision for the future. What Majestic and Hickman are bringing here plays an important role in that future.”
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