Culture / Entertainment

Fort Worth’s Landmark Thannisch Building and the Stockyards Hotel to Get Revamped by the Hotel Drover Team — the Exclusive Insider Details

More Big Changes Are Coming For The Stockyards

BY // 06.03.22

The Mule Barns sat there decaying quietly for decades in Fort Worth, until a multi-million dollar restoration plan came together, capitalizing on its historic legacy while breathing new life into an oft-overlooked piece of the city. Mule Alley has proven to be wildly successful. The next historic property in Fort Worth set to get a long overdue revamp will be the historic block along E. Exchange Avenue known as the Thannisch Building.

Dating back to 1904 to 1907, the Thannisch houses the landmark Stockyards Hotel, Hunter Brothers’ H3 Ranch Steak House and its adjoining Booger Red’s Saloon.

A lot of promises were made when the Stockyards Heritage Development Co. ― a joint venture of Majestic Realty Co. and the Hickman Companies ― first set its sights on the area. The boot heels of many locals were dug in, and a lot of dust was stirred up getting its Phase I redevelopment of the historic Mule Barns underway. Few could have imagined then just how big of a tourist magnet Mule Alley would become. Along with its centerpiece boutique Hotel Drover (which became Phase II), the massive investment has proven that Fort Worth’s cowboy past can boost the present ― and with jaw-dropping results.

More than $200 million has been invested in The Stockyards over the past three years. That was just for starters.

With its first two projects having won over many Fort Worthians ― especially overjoyed Visit Fort Worth staffers who have been busy selling the heck out of the new and improved Stockyard’s entertainment and ambiance ― all eyes are now fixed on what’s next.

Stockyards Hotel – The current interior of the historic Stockyards Hotel.
The current interior of the historic Stockyards Hotel.

When he opened Hotel Drover in March of 2021, Majestic Realty managing partner Craig Cavileer was already looking ahead and touting the next phase of development. It will invest an additional $500 million into the area over the next five years with Stockyards Heritage Development Co. continuing to build out its 70 acres of holdings within the 200 acre district.

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“We’ve only built on three acres so far, and still have 30 acres of undeveloped land,” Kayla Wilkie tells PaperCity Fort Worth. Wilke is the director of design and development for Majestic Realty Co. and Stockyards Heritage Development Co. She’s the creative force behind the smashing and bold design of the Hotel Drover.

At first, it never occurred to either Wilke or Cavileer that the Stockyards Hotel was even a possibility to redevelop. But Wilke pressed forward to inquire.

“I’ve been walking past that building since I was in college,” Cavileer says. “I think the coolest part of the story is the relationship we have built with the building’s owner Bob McLean. The whole process began just 15 weeks ago when we tracked him down — and we closed on the property at 3 pm on Tuesday.

“McLean’s family has a long history in Fort Worth, beginning with his Hunter Brothers’ relatives that first came here. Bob was looking for someone who would be a good caretaker of it. And he liked what we had done at Hotel Drover.

“It just worked.”

The Hunter Brothers’ H3 Ranch steakhouse has inhabited the space at the corner of Exchange Avenue and  North Main Street since 1997, welcoming a myriad of tourists for a true taste of Texas ranch cuisine. Especially its famous smoked sirloin and prime rib.

Inside Booger Red’s Saloon tourists have been literally saddling up to the bar for years, where the barstools are fitted with worn saddles. Visitors are often amused by the mounted buffalo butts above the bar, only to find the rest of the buffalo mounted on the restaurant side of the wall when their name is called and their table is ready. The restaurant will be closed effective immediately.

The Stockyards Hotel, however, will continue to function as normal for now, until a plan is settled on for the full refurbishment of the 52 room hotel. Both Cavileer and Wilke remind me that they “don’t rush into anything.” To prove the point, they note they still have artwork they haven’t even hung on the walls yet at the Hotel Drover.

“Our original plan was not to say anything about the change of ownership until we knew what we wanted it to become,” Cavileer says. “But once word of the sale got out, we knew we had to answer questions.”

What does Cavileer already know?

“The design will be rooted in the West,” he says. “It could be old West or the new West, or a mash-up of the two. And there will be a food and beverage element along the first floor.”

Will that mean the return of an old school Texas chili parlor? Perhaps. Or an expanded and inviting lobby bar? Maybe. Everyone will have to wait and see. The intricate brickwork on the building’s façade will remain unchanged. What Mule Alley and Hotel Drover have already proven is that there is a market for more boutique hotel rooms in this expanding Fort Worth district.

Cowtown Coliseum will host music events as well as rodeos soon.
Cowtown Coliseum will host music events as well as rodeos soon.

Cowtown Coliseum Ups Its Cool Factor

Last June, Stockyards Heritage Development Co. also took over operations of the historic Cowtown Coliseum ― home to the first indoor rodeo when it opened in 1908. They have a partnership with both Professional Bull Riding (PBR), which is making itself home all across Fort Worth these days, and Live Nation (the same music booking giant that Tim Love is using at Tannahill’s concert venue in Mule Alley).

“We are planning the sound and video equipment installation now,” Cavileer says. “I don’t think there has been a concert inside the coliseum since Elvis played there in the ’50s.”

There will be soon. The hope is to activate Cowtown Coliseum with more than Friday and Saturday night rodeos — adding live concerts — by the end of the year. More music and events will inch this already hot Fort Worth area into becoming even more of a Western lifestyle mecca.

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