When I talk to out-of-staters about Texas, they often think I mean “Dallas” when discussing the Metroplex as a whole. That’s when I explain how important the Fort Worth market is to our thriving and healthy Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) retail scene.
Weitzman, which operates offices in Texas’ major markets, has handled development, leasing and management in the Fort Worth market since our founding 30 years ago.
Today, the Fort Worth area is home to some of the state’s most robust residential, commercial and cultural growth. In terms of retail, our most recent market survey shows that as of January 2020, Fort Worth’s retail market is about as healthy as it’s ever been.
The Fort Worth-area market, which we’ll call Fort Worth for the sake of simplicity, largely encompasses Tarrant County. Today, Fort Worth reports a total multi-tenant retail inventory of 62.8 million square feet. As a reference, that figure accounts for about a third of the entire DFW retail market inventory, which clocks in at just over 200 million square feet.
Fort Worth’s occupancy rate is around 93 percent, a healthy rate on par with the Dallas area’s occupancy.
In terms of subcategories of retail product, the numbers of Fort Worth are as follows:
• Community centers boast a total inventory of 19.6 million square feet with a healthy occupancy rate of 92.3 percent.
• Power centers offer a total inventory of 14.4 million square feet with an occupancy rate of 96.6 percent.
• Neighborhood strip centers have a total inventory of 13.7 million square feet with an occupancy rate of 89 percent.
• Malls comprise a total inventory of 7.6 million square feet with an occupancy rate of 92 percent.
The Fort Worth market is home to six malls, including DFW’s newest open-air luxury mall, The Shops at Clearfork. The project, developed by Simon Property Group and anchored by Tarrant County’s only Neiman Marcus store, opened in 2017. The Shops at Clearfork has since expanded with dining and retail options, as well as experiential destinations such as Pinstripes bowling and bistro and AMC Dine-In Theatres.
The Shops at Clearfork is located along the Clear Fork Trinity River at the recently completed Chisholm Trail Parkway. This thoroughfare, which opened in 2014, is a 27.6-mile toll road extending from downtown Fort Worth to Cleburne. The completion of the Chisholm Trail Parkway has spurred retail, residential and commercial growth. The North Texas Tollway Authority led the development of the Chisolm Trail Parkway, and it reports daily use of 110,000 vehicles, up from around 66,600 in 2015.
In terms of retail, the Chisolm Trail Parkway will soon be home to The Shops at Chisolm Trail Ranch, a five-acre, 250,000-square-foot regional retail center that will be anchored by Marshalls, Ross Dress for Less, Old Navy, Studio Movie Grill and several others. The project is set to open in this spring as the retail destination for Chisolm Trail Ranch, a 600-acre master-planned community that is adding thousands of single- and multifamily units.
The Fort Worth area isn’t just about new retail. Weitzman leases one of Fort Worth’s oldest retail projects, Ridglea Village, a historic retail and office landmark along Camp Bowie Boulevard, a main thoroughfare through Fort Worth’s cultural district. Even though it first opened in the 1940s, Ridglea Village remains a vibrant and walkable retail and dining destination known for its Mediterranean styling.
Fort Worth’s largest submarket is Arlington, a city that sits between Dallas and Fort Worth and is known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and the only GM plant in the world that builds full-size Chevrolet, GM and Cadillac SUVs.
Arlington’s retail inventory totals 14.4 million square feet, the second-largest submarket inventory in DFW, and has an occupancy rate of around 92.4 percent. Thanks to the presence of the entertainment district and the University of Texas at Arlington, the city has seen a surge in mixed-use and restaurant-oriented retail.
One of the newest attractions is Texas Live!, which combines 200,000 square feet of entertainment and restaurant space, along with a recently opened, 300-room Live! By Loews luxury hotel. Texas Live! occupies a home-run location between AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, and the new Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers will play their first home game at the new $1.1 billion Globe Life Field baseball stadium in late March. The new stadium, with its retractable roof, promises to further energize the Arlington retail market.
Arlington loves its restaurants, including local concepts like Al’s Hamburgers, which has been in business for more than six decades. Al’s is in the process of relocating to the recently renovated Fielder Plaza, located at Fielder Street and Randol Mill Road. Even though Fielder Plaza was developed back in the 1970s, customer loyalty and the recent renovation has enabled it to be home to leading grocer Tom Thumb, as well as CVS, Starbucks and soon, Al’s Hamburgers!
In terms of growth, Fort Worth’s current population of 906,000 is on track to exceed 1 million by 2024. Tarrant County’s current population of 2.1 million is on track to increase to 2.3 million within the next four years.
Without a doubt, the Fort Worth market for 2020 and beyond will continue to shine, thanks to double-digit population growth, healthy economic expansion and retail projects both new and old that remain vibrant and well leased.
— By Marshall Mills, CEO, Weitzman. This article first appeared in the March 2020 issue of Texas Real Estate Business magazine, a sister publication of Shopping Center Business.