By Robert Francis firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 26, 2018
On the muscle of my arm there's a red and blue tattooSays, Fort Worth I love you – Michael Martin Murphy
Sure, we love our city. Great Mexican food, barbecue and chicken-fried steaks, what’s not to love?
But will Amazon love us enough to locate HQ2 here? We won’t know until Jeff Bezos stops counting his money and makes the final decision. But hey, we made the cut to the final 20. And that wasn’t easy.
Based on the cities that made the cut, and what the company told some of the cities that didn't, the company will likely scrutinize six key criteria when making its final call: Talent, size, quality of life, education, those ever popular tax breaks and incentives, and transit. Amazon plans to announce its decision later this year.
Amazon executives were pretty quick to tell some areas that didn’t make the cut why they didn’t. As quickly as the Amazon site tells you they no longer have that special body lotion you love, they bluntly told officials from Kansas City, Missouri, that the region's lack of highly-skilled technology workers cost it a spot on the final list, according to Tim Cowden, CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. Ouch.
If you look at the list of key attributes, put together by the Associated Press following the announcement of the finalists, Dallas and Fort Worth stack up pretty well.
But, according to some, Fort Worth’s plans for becoming HQ2 for the e-commerce giant may get derailed for one very important reason: Transit. There, according to Paige Shipp, regional director of Metrostudy, a provider of primary and secondary market information to the housing and residential construction industry, the western side of the Metroplex doesn’t stack up. During a speech at the 2018 Greater Fort Worth Builders Association’s Economic Forecast presented by Lee Lighting on Jan. 25 at Ridglea Country Club, Shipp said she expects transportation issues to rule out several of the potential sites put forward in the joint bid submitted by a number of North Texas cities. She identified sites in Dallas County, such as Trinity Groves, Victory Park, Reunion, Oak Cliff, Plano and near the University of Texas at Dallas as likely locations. All have a solid transit component.
As you can read in our story by Craig McDaniel on page 10, the area is moving forward with some new transit options. But as anyone who has driven Interstate 35 north of Fort Worth in the past 5 years knows, improving traffic nightmares doesn’t happen overnight.
And local business leaders are making their voices heard. It’s not the first time. The 35W Coalition in north Fort Worth helped put a focus on improving access to the fast-growing Alliance area. That is finally bearing fruit.
Now a new alliance is coming forth to push for “a more robust transit system for Fort Worth and Tarrant County.” The Tarrant Transit Alliance, supported by the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, among others, is planning to show up at the Jan. 30 Fort Worth City Council meeting to “make sure our transit systems stay a priority,” according to the group.
The organization points out that funding for the T, which operates the city’s bus service and some regional transportation independent from the city, comes from a half-cent sales tax approved by voters 34 years ago. Changing that formula won’t be easy.
In September 2017, the city was unable to generate sufficient support for a plan to expand bus service. So things are moving, if not on the tracks, to improve area transit.
Will it help land Amazon HQ2? Maybe not, but maybe we’ll get in the discussion. At the moment, on the Irish bookmaker site Paddy Power, the Dallas bid for Amazon’s has 20 to 1 odds, while Boston, where Charlie is still riding that M.T.A., has 2 to 1 odds. Austin, not exactly stunning in mass transit, by the way, has 11 to 2 odds.
READ MORE at Fortworthbusiness.com
Transit investment in the Fort Worth area is much lower than in most current peer cities. Consequently, transit ridership is also lower.
In 2015, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority published their well thought out and studied Master Plan. Since the plan’s publication, no new funding mechanisms have been established from the city.
Funding for the T, which operates the city’s bus service and some regional transportation independent from the city, has come from a half-cent sales tax approved by voters 34 years ago. In 2017 that was about $68 million in revenue.
Just for comparison, in 2018 San Antonio has budgeted to spend 4.1million out of their general fund for new public transportation routes. Their funding mechanism is similar to ours, and their city realized that the half cent is simply not sufficient to fund their transit system. Nashville, a finalist for the Amazon HQ2, also provides funding for public transportation out of their general fund (and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority’s President & CEO Paul Ballard helped build that system when he worked for them!)
Our region is growing - Fort Worth is on track to become the Nation’s 12th largest city by 2019. By 2035, Tarrant County is projected to grow from 1.8 million residents to 2.8 million. With this growth, comes traffic congestion and further wear and tear on our infrastructure. While public transportation options are not cheap, building more roads is even more expensive. Improved public transportation allows cities to efficiently and equitably move people from one place to another, allowing for our city to expand and meet the needs of our growing population.
Our demographics are changing & our workforce is leaving - The number of millennials in the workforce in comparison to the number of Generation X and Z-ers is decreasing – there are more jobs and less workers. This is already creating competition in the jobs market as cities compete for workforce talent. Location decisions for major companies today start and end with “do they have the people we want?” Millennials want transportation options, and better transit options will be crucial to attracting and retaining this key demographic.
At the same time, Baby Boomers are reaching retirement. In Tarrant County, the population of older adults is projected to increase by over 185,000 residents – from just 9% of the population in 2010 to 17% of the population in 2030. This large population of older adults will require safe and affordable transit options to stay active and engaged in their communities and access daily services and medical appointments.
Economic Development -
Amazon’s HQ2 requests for proposals illustrates the competition between cities for workforce and the importance of public transportation options. As mentioned before, companies are researching and relocating in search of young, qualified talent - GM left the suburbs of Connecticut to Boston, McDonald’s moved its HQ to downtown Chicago, Expedia moved from Bellevue, Washington to Seattle… this is just to name a few.
An Equitable City -
Residents in the Fort Worth region spend over 25% of household income on transportation. In fact, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metro area is in the top 20 regions in the country for the highest annual transportation costs. Transit provides an affordable transportation option for those who depend on public transportation and those who choose to ride it. Building safe and efficient public transportation systems helps people get to work and school.
We need to prepare our city for the future -
Autonomous vehicles and other future technologies are coming, which will allow for even more connectivity. But these are not going to replace the systems we are setting into place. Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit will serve as the spine to these transportation systems, with driverless buses replacing driven buses, and smaller vehicles traveling along the corridors we establish today, but with the ability to adjust for the last mile
Last Fall, our Fort Worth City Council leaders said they would look at the interim budget to see if there are savings that they could re-direct to improving the transit system. On Tuesday, January 30 at 7:00 pm, supporters of transit in Fort Worth will head to City Hall again to remind our elected officials of this promise and to make sure our transit systems stay a priority.
We want to use public transit, but it is infrequent and will not go where we need to go. We need funding to help improve the service, make it faster and easier to ride, and expand its reach. We HAVE to start today.
Increased funding allows for more frequent stops and longer hours, expansion of service areas, and the connection of urban villages and other city centers. This is the backbone of the system - a frequent transit network.
The T Masterplan is a well researched roadmap to make this happen. We have already moved into the Northside, the next step, based on research of demand centers, is to move into the western quadrant. This requires $4.4million for operating funds and $7million for the busses. The next quadrants are the Southside and the Eastside. This is to help build the base of the system and develop a frequent transit network so our community is best served and we can connect our city’s activity centers. This means building more service, which requires more funding.
We will be meeting on Tuesday, January 30 at 4:00 PM at The Winchester Tavern, a bar located at 903 Throckmorton st (Formerly Paddy Red's Irish Pub). If you would like to ask questions, go over talking points, get help signing up or just hang out with us before the City Council Meeting, that is the place to be!
We will help folks sign up until the 5:00 cut off, and then walk over to City Hall (a quick, 5 minute walk).
If you are driving, you can park on the streets and pay at the meter (parking is free after 6PM). To get here via public transportation, we recommend using Google Maps as it is very accurate. Simply click “directions” and then select the picture of a train at the top to get public transportation directions.
Ken AdairShareholderHarris, Finley & Bogle
Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers
Tyler ArbogastDevelopment DirectorJames R. Harris Partners
Paul BallardPresident & CEOFt Worth Transportation Authority
Michael BennettPrincipal & CEO
Bennett Benner Partners
Daniel BercePresident & CEO
Texas Christian University
Mike BrennanPlanning Director
Derek BuchananVice President - Commercial Real Estate
EJP Consulting Group
David CampbellVice President
Larry ChiltonExecutive VP of Real Estate Lending
Linda ChristieGovernment Relations
Tarrant Regional Water District
Travis CleggPrincipalPeloton Land Solutions
Bill CoppolaPresident - Southeast CampusTarrant County College
John CornelsenPresidentEvolving Texas
Jeff DavisChairman - Fort Worth DivisionRepublic Title
Michelle Davis-MohammedManager of Real Estate Management ServicesTarrant County College District
Ryan DwigginsVice President of DevelopmentCHC Development
Charles Edmonds & Associates
Sendera Title John Michael FranksAttorney
Wynne Law Firm
Eugene GiovanniniChancellorTarrant County College
Susan GraweBusiness Development DirectorBalfour Beatty
John D. HallVP of Administration & Campus OperationsUniversity of Texas at Arlington
Sloan HarrisPartnerVLK Architects
James HillExecutive VPTexas Capital Bank
Bob JamesonPresident & CEOFW Convention & Visitors Bureau
Ginger JohnsonVP, Business Development OfficerLegacyTexas Bank
Ryan JohnsonManaging PartnerGood Hope Development
Nanci Johnson-PlumpVice PresidentCBRE
University of Texas at Arlington
Drew KileSenior DirectorInstitutional Property Advisors
Northern Trust Company Brad LonbergerPrincipalGateway Planning Group
Scott MahaffeyCEOCohn & Gregory
Drew MartinManaging DirectorDM2
Nicholas K. MartinAsset & Project ManagerConcorde Asset Group
Andre McEwingSupplier Diversity ManagerTarrant County College District & Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce
Paxton MotheralVice PresidentCassco Development Ken NewellTrinity Lakes and Newell Company
Neftali OrtizManufacturing Engineer
Brandy O'QuinnPublic Affairs Senior Manager
Blue Zones Project
Nina PettyVice Chancellor for Real Estate & Facilities Tarrant County College District Phillip PoolePartnerTownsite Brian RandolphPresident
Keri RedfordManaging Director
JLL Valuation & Advisory Services Titus RodriguezCity Council Place 1City of North Richland Hills
Pollard RogersPartnerCantey Hanger LLP
Jonathan RussellSr. Project ManagerDunaway Associates
Texas Wesleyan University
TD SmyersPresident & CEO
United Way of Tarrant County
Casey ToungetBrokerColdwell Banker Commercial Advisors
Walter WilliamsDirector of Operational InfrastructureTarrant County College District
"It's dishonorable..." lack of quorum shuts down debate about public transit
BY SANDRA BAKER email@example.com
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 05:07 PM UPDATED SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 10:07 PM
FORT WORTH — A proposal to devote city property tax revenue to expanded bus service in Fort Worth appears dead after two council members who opposed the measure failed to show up for a public hearing Friday afternoon.
The council had scheduled a special session for a public hearing to change the property tax rate that, if approved, could have given the T about $2.8 million from tax revenues in 2018. The Fort Worth Transportation Authority has said it needs the money to implement expanded bus services to the city’s west side.
The council knew three of its members had conflicts and were not going to be able to make the meeting. But when Cary Moon of District 4 and Jungus Jordan of District 6 did not show for the meeting, Mayor Betsy Price declared a lack of quorum 15 minutes after it was supposed to start.
About four dozen residents, some in wheelchairs who previously have spoken about being transit dependent, showed up to the meeting. About half of them met with Councilwoman Ann Zadeh afterward in a separate meeting room, where 17 people spoke.
Read More at Star-Telegram.com
SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 03:32 PM UPDATED SEPTEMBER 21, 2017 06:58 PM
FORT WORTH — It’s clear the City Council is headed toward spending property tax revenue on public transportation for the first time in the city’s history.
That means homeowners will contribute to the city’s bus system by paying more property taxes than the city had originally planned, about $10 to $20 more for the owner of a $200,000 home.
Not all of the council members will agree to it. They will discuss the issue further Friday during a public hearing on the 2018 budget.
Council members are torn between continuing to lower the city’s property tax rate in the wake of rising property values and improving the transportation system for a better quality of life.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2017 10:31 AM UPDATED SEPTEMBER 22, 2017 04:30 PM
BY BUD KENNEDY firstname.lastname@example.org (Updated.)
FORT WORTH — Amazon nearly made Fort Worth a $6 million delivery, and with the help of Facebook.
Young professionals pointing to Amazon’s expansion plan convinced City Council to think a few days about a larger tax increase and buying an extra $6 million in better city bus service.
Two council opponents eventually sank the idea. But it was last-minute anyway. It was another example of civic activism fostered on Facebook.
Read more at Star-Telegram.com
SEPTEMBER 13, 2017 06:44 PM UPDATED SEPTEMBER 13, 2017 07:15 PM
FORT WORTH — The City Council has opened the door to expanded bus service by its decision to consider taking property tax revenues and spending it on public transportation.
Councilwoman Ann Zadeh pressed the issue Tuesday night, saying “fixing the transit system is our job.”
The council voted 6-1 to consider setting the proposed property tax rate for 2018 to 81.5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which is one cent higher than what’s been proposed.
Zadeh wants the revenue from the penny, or about $5.7 million, to go to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, or the T. The money would be used to expand and improve services to the city’s west side.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2017 05:43 PM UPDATED SEPTEMBER 12, 2017 11:39 AM
FORT WORTH — Advocates for public transportation plan to ask the Fort Worth City Council on Tuesday to put more money toward the city’s transit needs.
The Tarrant Transit Alliance was launched late last week on the heels of Councilwoman Ann Zadeh’s plea to her council colleagues that the city not reduce the property tax rate as planned.
Instead of the proposed reduction of 3 cents for the 2018 budget, Zadeh suggested a cut of 2 cents, with the money going to the T to help it improve services.
Zadeh’s remarks came during a budget work session Thursday, in which she said it was “irresponsible” the city wasn’t doing more to help the T put in a master plan the City Council asked for three years ago. She also said the council needs to stop talking about improving public transportation and actually do something.
Fort Worth Transit
Fort Worth Transportation Authority(The T)
Molly the Trolley
Trinity Railway Express
The T Master Plan
Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee
PO Box 470474Fort Worth, TX 76147