Construction has begun on phase one of the Fort Worth Convention Center expansion, a project that’s been 20 years in the making.

The details

According to a city news release, construction on the east side of the convention center on Commerce Street began on Dec. 20 and includes the following:
  • Building new state-of-the-art food and beverage facilities
  • Demolishing the 1983 annex
  • Increasing the number of loading docks from seven to 11
  • Straightening Commerce Street to create a site for a future convention hotel
The news release stated that phase one is expected to be completed in early 2026 and the convention center will remain open during the project. The cost of phase one, which is $95 million, is funded by federal grant and hotel occupancy tax revenue.

A timeline for phase two of the expansion has not yet been determined, according to the news release.

The backstory

The convention center expansion, which had been planned since the early 2000s to accommodate larger conventions and group meetings, was set to begin in 2020 before being shut down due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the news release stated.

Following the conclusion of the pandemic, the Fort Worth City Council approved $52 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds and $43 million from hotel occupancy tax revenue in December 2021 to begin phase one of the expansion project, according to the news release.

What you need to know

Perhaps the two biggest concerns for those visiting the center and the area immediately around it are parking and lane closures, officials said. According to the news release:
  • Only portions of surface parking lot 1—on the east side of Commerce Street—have been taken offline for construction. The center’s two parking garages on Houston and Commerce will continue to operate throughout the expansion, according to the news release.
  • Lane closures will affect traffic on south Commerce due to construction vehicles entering and exiting the site. The news release stated that drivers and cyclists should slow to 15 mph through this area and pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing Commerce. Lane closures are likely to continue throughout the project as the southeast entrance is expanded and the loading docks are rebuilt.
Quote of note

“Fort Worth’s visitor economy generates over $3 billion annually and employs over 30,000 people,” said Mike Crum, director of public events for the city of Fort Worth. “This expansion will deliver an elevated experience to our guests and ensure that we remain competitive with other Texas cities.”