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Is Fort Worth Immune To The Retail Climate?

Hillwood Properties' Bill Burton, Woodmont Co.'s Peter Jacobson, Trademark Property Co.'s Edward Manuel, CBRE's David Walters, Neiman Marcus' Scott Emmons, De La Vega Capital/Development's Artemio De La Vega and Woodmont Co.'s Grant Gary

In a vastly over-retailed country, Fort Worth is getting hard looks from all kinds of tenants: national, regional and first-to-market. 

“We’re at [the] forefront of a lot of retailers finally making commitment to Fort Worth,” Woodmont Co. president Grant Gary said. The demographics of Fort Worth show there is pent-up demand for quality retailers, Gary said. 

Neiman Marcus’ commitment to Fort Worth has never wavered, Neiman Marcus head of innovation labs Scott Emmons said. The city has the sophistication and wealth it takes to support a Neimans, he said. 

There has been a lack of innovation from big-box retailers and too much of a focus on financial engineering, De La Vega Capital/Development CEO Artemio De La Vega said.

“We’re concerned about the type of retailers expanding today,” Trademark Property Co. senior vice president of development Edward Manuel said. 

But Manuel sees many bright spots for the future of retail: food and beverage, experiential retailers and so-called treasure hunt retailers such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. 

Trademark is closely watching the restaurant sales and traffic at its Waterside and Westbend projects (and the rest of Fort Worth) closely to determine demand.

IPA Texas' Drew Kyle, Greystar's Laird Sparks, Republic Property Group's Tony Ruggeri, South Fort Worth's Paul Paine, Fort Capital's Chris Powers and M2G Ventures' Susan Gruppi

“The narrative of the thing you’re creating is more important now,” Republic Property Group co-CEO Tony Ruggeri said. Developers who see the most success are the ones who create an experience within their project, and sign retailers who create experiences within their own four walls, Manuel said.

Fort Capital CEO Chris Powers follows another rule for his developments. He looks for the barbell effect where there are two demographics of users on either end of a development. 

“We think we can pull from a lot of folks when we develop in locations with lots of surrounding neighborhoods,” Powers said. 

That philosophy has worked well for mixed-use projects with retail centers like West 7th and Clearfork

“Fort Worth is an anomaly with all the new retail, and that’s a testament to strength of this market,” Gary said.