Downtown Fort Worth lacks space for luxury

Developer of Deco 969 says he would do another one if there was a site downtown

Southern Land CEO Tim Downey and renderings of Deco 969 in Fort Worth
Southern Land CEO Tim Downey and renderings of Deco 969 in Fort Worth (Southern Land)

A multifamily development in downtown Fort Worth is drawing heavy interest, signaling high demand for luxury apartments, but there’s one problem.

Developable land is scarce. 

Southern Land Company recently topped out the 27-story Deco 969 project at 969 Commerce Street, marking one of the first high-end apartment towers in downtown Fort Worth in 30 years, the Dallas Business Journal reported

The 302-unit, 300,000-square-foot development has received interest from 570 potential renters, exceeding Southern Land’s expectations, the firm’s CEO Tim Downey told the outlet.

None of the firm’s prior developments in Fort Worth received that much attention, Downey said. Its location is a big reason for the hype surrounding the project, he said. 

Renderings of Deco 969 in Fort Worth
Renderings of Deco 969 in Fort Worth (Southern Land)

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“I know sometimes downtown gets stretched out a bit,” Downey told the outlet. “What we’re in is the core of downtown, or the Sundance area. What’s driving all the interest is that there hasn’t been anything in that area in so long.”

The scarcity of land available for development has led to minimal residential projects in the downtown area, he said. It took Southern Land about 12 years to find a site for Deco 969, and while the firm wants to build another luxury complex, it is struggling to find an adequate site. 

Downey compared Fort Worth to Nashville, citing its similarities in population, number of jobs and average income. Yet, there are far fewer luxury high-rises in the works in Fort Worth compared to Nashville, where Downey estimates there are at least 30, he told the outlet.

While roughly 3,200 multifamily units and 1,500 hotel rooms were in the development pipeline to start the year, those projects are fairly spread out and not within the walkable core of the city, Downey said. Deco 969 could start a trend, however, for similar projects in the city core.

“This is a great, beautiful, walkable downtown, and the people in Fort Worth are every bit as sophisticated and well off as Dallas people,” Downey told the outlet. “Why can’t they have a nice high-rise apartment building? They were going, ‘Well nobody’s ever done it before, so we can’t take the risk.’ I guess once we prove it out, others will probably try to follow, but there just isn’t much land to do it in.”

—Quinn Donoghue

Read more