If you ever wondered what to do with forty acres of land, one Texas entrepreneur has the answer: Build a business center and fill it with street art. Thus was born the Fort Worth Design District, and the Snap and Share Art Walk!
Meet the Fort Worth Design District
When you hear the words Design District, you probably think of fashionable buildings filled with creative types who work in fashion, architecture, and media, sprinkled with galleries and showrooms. The relatively new Fort Worth Design District is, at first glance, anything but that.
It is the brainchild of Ron Sturgeon, “the Junkyard God” once featured on Blue Collar Millionaire. He made a fortune by recycling one man’s junk, and today has a real estate empire that generates about $6-million a year. Ol’ Ron is doing alright for himself.
Ron had forty acres just outside of Fort Worth; a mixed-use area filled with warehouse parks, residential neighborhoods, and light industry. Until the Design District came along, it was quite literally nothing to look at. You might think it’s still not much, but Ron planted a seed on his forty acres, and it seems to be taking root.
The Box Office Warehouse Suites
Right up front, the Design District grabs your attention with the fun, funky and colorful Box Office Warehouse Suites. It’s a collection of shipping containers turned into a multi-use park. The suites can be used for a variety of businesses, with the option of living on the second floor, tiny-home style. Already, there are boutiques, a theatre group, a salon, a magic shop, and a few service businesses.
This is the heart of the Design District, with fantastic street art murals covering the back walls of most of the colorful units. You can park here and explore the “box offices” before venturing further into the district.
Street art featuring a horse seems entirely appropriate in the Design District. Directly behind the Box Office Warehouse Suites is Paddock Place. While not hosting any street art, we think the small office/special events space is worth a mention. If the building looks like a barn, that’s because it is! A horse barn, to be exact, conjuring images of the forty acres’ ranching past. It’s nice that there is a reminder of what used to be here.
Golden Triangle Business Park
One thing this area of Fort Worth has a lot of is warehouse space. Being on the outskirts of town (or at least, what used to be the outskirts) meant that land prices were pretty low. As agriculture moved out, much of the area was developed for warehousing and light industrial businesses.
A little more than half of the Design District is filled with these warehouse buildings, making up the Business Park. A variety of small businesses call the District home, from body shops – both human and automotive – to literal warehousing and storage operations. They’re not the sort of shops you’d wander around, peeking in windows, but there’s still a reason to wander around!
The Snap & Share Art Walk continues through the business park with large canvases mounted on the sides of the buildings. The vinyl tarps are either printed or painted with designs that encourage you to pose with the oversized artwork. There’s even a local version of Love Locks, and the requisite painted wings. Most of the artwork is visible from the main road of the park, but you’ll want to get up close and personal with a few pieces for the perfect selfie to share.
The Annual Street Art & Graffiti Festival
Every March, the Design District hosts a Street Art and Graffiti Festival. Many of our photos were taken during the 2019 event, when the parking lot of the Box Offices was filled with food trucks and vendors. We had a great time and, in our opinion, that’s the best time to go. We are obviously not the only ones who think so: thousands attended the daylong event, but there was almost no one out there when we went back for more photos a few days later.
The Festival offers a cash prize for invited artists. 2019 competitors included Jared “DTOX” Davies, J. Muzacz, and Venezuelan born artist Luis Angulo (aka @uloang). Luis won the top prize with his painting Fierce, which he says “intends to embody both female beauty and power.”
In the Area
Whenever we write about an attraction, we like to include other things you might want to consider in the area. Trouble is, there’s not really anything in the area yet, aside from a few boutiques and a hair salon in the Box Office Warehouse Suites. Going a little further afield, however, there are some unique places to see.
Fifteen minutes away is the City of Roanoke, which is building a reputation as the Unique Dining Capital of Texas. Along with some fun boutiques, there is a variety of great restaurants. While all of them are good, you shouldn’t miss local legend Babe’s Fried Chicken, or Hard 8 Barbeque, which frequently tops the area’s best BBQ lists. The town also hosts a weekend Farmer’s Market, and the Thursday night Oak Street Concert Series throughout the summer. Roanoke is growing quickly, and an outpost of Memphis’ Peabody Hotel is expected to break ground in 2020.
The Alliance area is less than ten miles from the Design District. Although it’s centered around Alliance Airport, its best-known resident is Texas Motor Speedway. There is almost always something happening at the Speedway! In addition to NASCAR and Indy Car races, there are car shows and other racing events all year long.
The Fort Worth Design District is at 1953 Golden Heights Road, at Harmon Road, in Fort Worth. Unfortunately, there are no mass transit options for getting there. If driving or using a ride-share service, it’s about 15 miles from downtown Fort Worth, or about 23 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
When you go, allow about an hour to walk around the district and, as the name implies, Snap & Share some photos. The entire area is pet friendly, and even has a dog park where you furry friend can play. There is ample free parking throughout the Design District, though it can get crowded on event weekends.
There is a phrase: Putting lipstick on a pig. The street art in the Design District is obviously great, but you can’t overlook the fact that much of it is essentially banners on the sides of warehouses. And there are a lot of warehouses out there.
Unlike areas where street art is meant to revitalize an area, here it seems more an attempt to lure visitors to the few shops that have opened up. This was previously ranchland, and the Design District is literally making something out of nothing in what still seems like the middle of nowhere. There is no other development yet to bring and keep visitors in the area. The Design District is doing all of the heavy lifting by itself, without the benefit of many design-centric entrepreneurs. Yet. Visiting the Design District right now is sort of like catching wet paint on a mural: It’s a work in progress.
The good news is that there is a lot of beautiful street art already gracing the Design District. You can see more of it in the gallery just below. We haven’t captured every single mural though! We wanted to leave some things for you to discover on your own when you come visit. 🙂
If you’ve been to the Fort Worth Design District, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Likewise, we’d love to hear about your favorite Street Art areas, whether someplace you’ve traveled, or someplace near you. Please let us know in the comments!
More Street Art from the Fort Worth Design District!