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FORT WORTH-The largest redevelopment opportunity in years in the Fort Worth Stockyards has made its way to the market. The 29.37-acre tract, with a turn-of-the-century meatpacking plant, is being sold lock, stock and barrel–and for the right price, the mineral rights too.

Greg Trout, president of Henry S. Miller Commercial in Dallas, and senior vice president John Brewer have fielded at least 20 “serious” inquiries and scores of telephone calls since marketing got under way two weeks ago for the Armour & Co/Bunge Edible Oil Facility at 400 E. Exchange Ave. and excess land at 600 NE 23rd St. and NE 21st St. The rail-served land lies on the eastern side of the Stockyards, a popular tourist draw with longhorn cattle drives, rodeos, boutiques, western-style shops and restaurants. The call for offers is Sept. 6.

“This is a significant movement on an old industrial site that has begged for redevelopment for a number of years,” says Bob Riley, Fort Worth’s development director. The slaughterhouse was razed in the early 1970s prior to the St. Louis-based Bunge North America taking over the property from Armour. Last May, Bunge vacated the 178,359-sf outdated plant for a 107,000-sf build-to-suit in Carter Industrial Park on the city’s south side.

Trout tells GlobeSt.com that the seller is awaiting a copy of a recently completed phase one environmental study by locally based Carter & Burgess, but there’s no indication that a second phase or remediation is needed. Bunge used the site to package and distribute edible oils like canola and soybean. Nonetheless, the building is destined to be scraped from the 17.5-acre tract.

“This will be a redevelopment,” Trout emphasizes. “At least, that’s what I envision.” The Exchange Avenue land includes a right-of-way that leads to a vacant 9.8 acres with 23rd Street frontage. Tax records show a 2.1-acre tract fronts 21st Street.

The last property known to change hands in the district was the 29,266-sf Spaghetti Warehouse at 601 E. Exchange Ave., once the headquarters building for Armour’s predecessor, Swift & Co. Local investor Richard Hand, a Texas Rangers pitcher in 1972, bought it in May and flipped it to XTO Energy, which is now returning the structure to office use. Tarrant Appraisal District has the 2.5-acre asset assessed at $1.2 million.

Trout says so few properties change hands in and around the Stockyards that comps simply aren’t available. “I said ‘let’s just put it out there and let people make an offer on it,’” he says.

As word gets out and Sept. 6 draws nearer, interest from would-be buyers has picked up dramatically. “They’re close-mouthed about what they want to use it for,” Trout says. “But if somebody wants to do more of the Stockyards, you almost need this piece of property.” Although it can’t be confirmed, several of the city’s wealthiest investors are said to be using front-men to make a run for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

With the Barnett Shale gas reserves underlying the region, Trout says the mineral rights “aren’t necessarily on the table” but certainly could be. “It would depend on the offer and the wherewithal to close the transaction,” he says.

According to Trout, Bunge just wants to sell the real estate regardless of the scenario whether it’s the whole shebang, piecemeal and with or without the mineral rights. What can’t be disputed, he says, is it’s one of the largest contiguous land sites in the historic Stockyards to come to market in years.

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