It’s official. ‘Aggieland North’ is coming to downtown Fort Worth.
The Texas A&M Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to expand the footprint of its downtown Fort Worth campus by adding a research and innovation center and education extension building to its existing law school at 1515 Commerce St.
The new campus will expand across Calhoun Street and stretch from East 13th Street to the north and East 16th Street to the south. The construction is expected to cost roughly $255 million, according to Texas A&M’s capital plan.
The university hopes to break ground on the research and education buildings in the summer 2023 and finish construction by winter 2024, according to a presentation by deputy chancellor Billy Hamilton.
Construction on the rebuilt law school building should start summer 2024 and should be finished roughly a year and a half later.
“I think this will be the single most impactful thing to happen to Fort Worth this entire century,” said billionaire developer John Goff.
Goff, who was selected by former Mayor Betsy Price to lead the “Fort Worth Now” economic recovery task force, said having a Tier One research university in the city will have a much bigger impact than trying to net a big corporate relocation.
“Companies like XTO come and go. Universities never leave,” Goff said.
This is Texas A&M’s biggest expansion in Fort Worth since it bought the downtown law school building from Texas Wesleyan University in 2013.
It comes less than a week after the university system announced a partnership with Tarrant County College to establish an engineering academy giving local students the chance to earn a Texas A&M engineering degree closer to home for a fraction of the cost.
“We figured out pretty soon after we put the law school in that Fort Worth is our kind of town,” said Chancellor John Sharp, speaking to the Board of Regents.
The research and innovation center is expected to become a hub for research on topics like nutrition, emergency response, medical technology and advanced manufacturing, although Sharp said this is the tip of the iceberg for the kind of work this center will do.
Companies like Alcon, AT&T, Bell, Elbit Systems of America, Lockheed Martin, and Philips have expressed interest in partnering with Texas A&M’s new center both to collaborate on research and potential workforce training, according to a November 2021 university press release.
The expansion will bring the first Tier One research university to the city of Fort Worth, which are elite research institutions granted that status by either the Association of American Universities, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching or the Center for Measuring University Performance.
The University of North Texas and UT Arlington are both considered Tier One.
The education alliance building will bring technical and professional courses from nearby Texas A&M partners to downtown Fort Worth. Prospective students will be able to take courses in biotechnology, nursing, and criminal justice from Tarleton State University, as well as engineering courses from Texas A&M.
Texas A&M’s Fort Worth expansion will be a game changer for Fort Worth’s workforce, Mayor Mattie Parker said.
Every city is trying to beef up its high skilled workforce, and having workforce training programs spearheaded by Texas A&M will help residents get the necessary skills to get into higher paying jobs, she said.
This story was originally published May 19, 2022 5:05 PM.