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Fort Worth expected to make offer for historic downtown Post Office

U.S. Post Office in downtown Fort Worth. Photo by Scott Nishimura

Scott Nishimura
snishimura@bizpress.net

Fort Worth is moving toward making an offer for the historic downtown U.S. Post Office on West Lancaster Avenue, to secure the building after the government’s decision earlier this year to move postal services to another location.

The board of Fort Worth’s Tax Increment Finance District 8 - the Lancaster TIF - on Tuesday will discuss a potential resolution approving an agreement with the city to pursue purchasing the property, 251 W. Lancaster.

“The Post Office is not only historically important for all of us, it’s a critical piece in the future development of the Lancaster corridor,” City Councilman Jungus Jordan, chairman of the Lancaster TIF, said in an interview.

“We’re interested in making an offer, and we’ll have that discussion with the TIF board,” he said.

“We do not know what the future use will be,” he added. “We just want to make sure we secure the facility.”

The Lancaster TIF is generating the money that would be necessary to pursue the purchase, he said.

The TIF board has discussed the issue in executive session this year, but this is the first time the discussion has moved into the public, Jordan said. The city, for years, has noodled over the possibility of trying to buy the building and converting it into a new City Hall.

Jordan said he couldn’t speak for the other 10 board members, but he said he felt “fairly confident” the TIF board and city will move forward with making an offer.

Tax increment finance districts, authorized by Texas law, generate cash that local governments can use for structural improvements and infrastructure. The available tax increment for a specific TIF is based on the difference between appraised values in the year the TIF is established and subsequent years the TIF is in existence.

The 220-acre Lancaster TIF was created in 2003 and it lasts through 2024.

The TIF zone is generally bounded on the north by Seventh and Third streets, the south by Interstate 30, east by Calhoun Street, and west by Henderson Street.

Its projects have included the T&P Terminal, T&P Warehouse, public art, median improvements, Omni Hotel sidewalk widening, Lancaster redevelopment, Oncor building redevelopment, and Hampton Inn and Suites.

The base value of the TIF is $178.9 million, and the 2012 taxable value was $388.1 million, according to the city.

Jordan said he couldn’t estimate how much the TIF and city may offer.

“That’s part of the discussions that we’ll have Tuesday,” he said.

“We feel, as a governmental entity, we should have first choice” in the Post Office sale process, he said.

The nonprofit Historic Fort Worth earlier in May placed the main Post Office on its list of endangered properties, given the Postal Service’s decision earlier this year to move out of the building and put it up for sale.
 

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