No repairs to the Sandman hotel until explosion investigation is complete, city says

dfwnewsa | January 11, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

No repairs to the Sandman hotel until explosion investigation is complete, city says

An explosion Jan. 8 at the Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel caused the concrete first floor to collapse into the basement. Repairs to the historic W. T. Waggoner Building will have to wait until the city’s investigation is complete. (Sandra Sadek | Fort Worth Report)
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The Sandman Signature Fort Worth Downtown Hotel won’t be reopening anytime soon, as city staff wait for the investigation to be completed before beginning repairs.  

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Fort Worth’s fire department is currently investigating a gas leak and the role it may have played in the Jan. 8 explosion. The hotel is in the W.T. Waggoner Building, which has a historic designation from the city of Fort Worth. It’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Despite the building’s historic significance, making repairs to the structure will not require any special process or special permits, Fort Worth’s development services department said. 

“Because of the importance of this historic property, our city’s development staff is prepared to assist in facilitating design and providing guidance on best practices for the preservation of the building,” the department said in an email.  

Making sure the building is structurally sound is the priority, Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth Inc., said. 

“They’re just going to have to do all kinds of assessments to see what needs to be done once they determine if the building is structurally sound,” Tracy told the Fort Worth Report.

However, once those repair plans are completed, she expects the building to “look like it always has.”

The main structural damage is from the street-level concrete floor’s collapse into the basement, where the Asian fusion restaurant Musume is located. The rest of the damage was mostly to windows and doors. 

The historic entrance to the Sandman hotel in downtown Fort Worth sustained damage from an explosion Jan. 8. (Photo courtesy | Glen Ellman, Fort Worth Fire Department)

A structural engineer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency was brought in by the city’s fire department to assess the building’s structural integrity. Many point to the building’s steel structure as the reason the Waggoner building did not collapse from the impact of the blast. 

“I think the city is going through all the proper processes and determining the condition of the building and the safety of it,” Tracy said. 

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There was also significant damage to 8th Street, which is expected to remain closed for a while. Fort Worth police announced Jan. 11 that West 7th Street traveling one way eastbound between Throckmorton and Houston streets is now open for through traffic. 

When it comes to relocating displaced Sandman hotel guests, Terran Fleenor, senior manager of public relations with Visit Fort Worth, said other downtown hotels are working collectively to accommodate them and those with future reservations. 

“The downtown hotel community is really coming together,” she said. 

Depending on the extent of the damage, Tracy said, the owners of the hotel could benefit from state tax credits to help with the restoration of the historic building. That might ease the cost of repairs and get the hotel doors open again soon. 

According to the Texas Historical Commission, the minimum cost threshold of expenditures to qualify for credits is $5,000. This includes structural work, building repairs, electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, roof work and painting. 

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“In many ways, this is not drastically unlike a restoration of a really old building. And this is an old building, but it had this horrible, horrendous situation come up with gas,” Tracy said. 

Because the Waggoner Building is also a local landmark, it is eligible for a 10-year tax freeze.

The Sandman hotel is owned by Tom Gaglardi’s Vancouver-based hotel firm Northland Properties. Gaglardi also owns the Dallas Stars hockey team.  

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. 

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or @ssadek19. 

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