Sundance Square: Fort Worth’s Past, Present and Future
Around the world, city squares are commonly used for social gatherings, entertainment and all kinds of commerce. For example, London has Trafalgar Square. Place de la Concorde is Paris’ largest square, with Tuileries Garden to the east and the Champs-Elysées to the west. Times Square of New York is abuzz all day and night. And in downtown Fort Worth, Sundance Square is on the verge of entering a new phase that will make it a one-of-a-kind attraction for local residents and tourists.
“The partnership between the Basses of Fort Worth and the Millers of Dallas, each having roots that go back more than a century in Texas, is the perfect alignment of mutually shared and principled family business values,” said Greg Miller, Chief Executive Officer and President of Henry S. Miller Companies. “Coming together to further enhance Sundance Square is a once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunity that will impact Texas and the entire country.”
Sundance Square is a 29-block walkable district that has been drawing visitors to its shops, restaurants and entertainment venues for decades. This, along with offices, hotels and residential buildings, has made Sundance Square an icon of commercial real estate in Texas.
“With more and more corporations relocating to Fort Worth and the rest of Tarrant County, Sundance Square is poised to be the place where families gather for shopping, celebrations, and entertainment,” said Henry S Miller III, Managing Director/Principal. “Henry S. Miller Company is honored to partner with Ed and Sasha Bass to enhance what is already a great place to live, work and play.”
Fort Worth’s Past
In the 1800s, Fort Worth was an important stop along the Chisholm Trail for cowboys on cattle drives to northern markets. Downtown was filled with saloons, gambling parlors, shooting galleries and dance halls.
A group of outlaws known as the Wild Bunch visited frequently. Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Longabaugh—better known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—were two members of this gang of bank and train robbers.
Back then, the area was called Hell’s Half Acre—not exactly a name that suggested family friendly entertainment in 1880 or 1980 when Bass Brother Enterprises began buying buildings in order to revitalize downtown Fort Worth. Old buildings were renovated and new ones were constructed. With popular restaurants and appealing retail stores, the area became an attraction rather than a place to avoid.
And in recognition of Fort Worth’s historic past, this revitalized city center was renamed Sundance Square.
Today’s Sundance Square
Since its renaissance began, Sundance Square has become one of the most successful downtown mixed-used developments in the country. Combining multifamily residential, office, retail and entertainment venues, Sundance Square offers the charm of a world gone by—check out the bricks that pave Main Street—along with the fun of modern day events such as sunset yoga, outdoor movies and a light-up-the-sky New Year’s Eve party.
Where do these and other special events take place? At Sundance Square Plaza, which is affectionately known as Fort Worth’s outdoor living room. Opened in 2013, the European-style palazzo covers 55,000 square feet and offers tables and chairs for casual dining, four giant 32-foot umbrellas for shade during the day and fountains for viewing or splashing.
If the Plaza is the centerpiece of Sundance Square, then the 2,056-seat Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall is the anchor. Two 48-foot limestone angels welcome patrons who enjoy a variety of performances inside one of the country’s finest concert halls. Bass Hall is the permanent home of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera Festival, Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and Cliburn Concerts. Broadway shows on tour and the Hall Series through Performing Arts Fort Worth are performed here, too.
In addition to Bass Hall, Sundance Square has three live theaters, a multi-screen movie theater, a comedy club and several venues where you can listen to live music ranging from jazz to country.
The Future of Sundance Square
So what’s ahead for this award winning downtown? Moving in many directions, Sundance Square will continue to be the center of work, retail and urban life, as Fort Worth moves closer to becoming one of the top three cities in the United States for attracting major corporate relocations and their employees. Plans are in the works to bring new-to-market retail stores, entertainment venues and restaurants to Sundance Square.
“We are ready to advance Sundance Square to the next level, bringing new vibrancy to our retail, restaurant, multi-family residential, office and entertainment offerings,” said Ed Bass. “I am delighted that one of the country’s great real estate firms – Henry S. Miller Company – will be our partner. And I am proud that we have selected a Texas firm that has developed, managed and leased other iconic properties.”