Grapevine Main Breaks Ground
By Nicholas Sakelaris | Special to the Star-Telegram
GRAPEVINE — From its 150-foot observation tower to the five-story train station and 121-room hotel all tied together with 19th-century-style architecture, TEXRail passengers won’t need an announcement over the train’s speakers to know where they are.
Grapevine will soon be home to the coolest place in Texas to catch a train thanks to the groundbreaking of Grapevine Main, a $105 million mixed-use project located on the northeast corner of Main and Dallas Streets.
The project could set a new standard for transit-oriented development in North Texas with restaurants, retail and a 38,000-square-foot outdoor plaza. The plaza will feature interactive fountains, a memorial for Native American tribes and room for thousands of people to gather for special events.
About 130 people showed up Wednesday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking, which featured a wine toast before the ceremonial shovel dig. Construction has already started on the 552-space parking garage and the platform where passengers will catch the train.
TEXRail will be a 27-mile passenger train with stops in downtown Fort Worth, Richland Hills, Grapevine and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. The train is now scheduled to start service the first week of 2019, said Paul Ballard, president and CEO of Trinity Metro and TEXRail. The Grapevine Main station and Hotel Vin are scheduled to open in late 2019.
Through environmental challenges, funding shortages and other delays, Grapevine has been one of the strongest supporters of TEXRail. Voters overwhelmingly approved the sales tax allocation in November 2006.
“When others in the region said, ‘That train will never run,’ our team looked to the citizens and the leaders of this community for support and encouragement that never wavered,” Ballard said.
Mayor William D. Tate had sharp words for skeptics and cities that opposed TEXRail.
“Those that chose not to participate in TEXRail will soon live to regret that decision,” said Tate, who is running unopposed for his 15th term. “We’re glad to offer to all of our neighbors a standing invitation to come to Grapevine to enjoy all of the benefits of TEXRail.”
The remarks were a veiled shot at cities like Colleyville, which passed on the opportunity to have a TEXRail station at John McCain Road and Colleyville Boulevard after a backlash from residents.
Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton later responded to the comments, telling the Star-Telegram: “Colleyville is blessed with an exceptional quality of life and we have a clear vision for our future. Colleyville’s master plan for accomplishing that future does not include a train station, but we congratulate our neighbors who celebrated a groundbreaking today for a project they feel will fit the needs of their city.”
Grapevine Main will be about an 8-minute train ride from Terminal B at DFW Airport where passengers can catch flights at any terminal via Skylink. Riders could also walk over to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit station at Terminal A where they could catch a light-rail train to destinations throughout Dallas and Collin counties.
Access to mass transit will help attract young urbanites who want to live in a walkable environment, Tate said. The Hotel Vin, a play on the French word for “wine,” will be a boutique hotel operated by Coury Hospitality under the Marriott International Autograph Collection brand.
The walkability will make it a destination for travelers from the airport, Ballard said.
“This hotel and development will become one of the best U.S. examples of what Americans look for on their European trips,” Ballard said. “That is, a cool train to a cool town with a cool hotel just steps from the station platform.”
Business owners on Main Street are also excited about the increased pedestrian traffic the train station will bring. The management at Chill Sports Bar & Grill just across Main Street has waited years for this to happen.
“It’s going to create a whole new spectrum of guests through Grapevine,” said Chris Packett, general manager for Chill. “It’s a higher-end hotel, not a normal run-of-the-mill Motel 6, so it’s going to bring a good clientele.”
Just north of the station, Perry Leonard, who owns Blagg Tire, said he expects more economic development to come downtown after the station opens.
“It’s going to bring more visitors and more customers to our businesses,” Leonard said. “It’s just another example of how Grapevine really pushes the envelope of bringing business to the community.”
Grapevine resident Charlie Vanzant said he’s been looking forward to this since the sales tax allocation passed in 2006.
“We’re just excited to see Grapevine tie into DFW Airport, which is a transportation hub for all of Texas,” Vanzant said. “It’s going to get vehicles off the highways. We have got to have mass transit.”
Ballard acknowledged that the project has been delayed for years, saying the first time he met Tate, the Grapevine mayor didn’t know if he’d live long enough to see TEXRail.
“You’re looking pretty darn good and the train is looking pretty darn good so we’ve both kept our ends of the bargain,” Ballard said. “I always believed we’d be here today.”
The TEXRail train cars will begin test runs later this month that will continue through the end of the year, Ballard said. Trinity Metro, the transit agency previously known as the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, will run six trains during peak hours.
The first trains will run before 5 a.m. and the last one will leave just after 1 a.m. They will operate 365 days a year. They are built by Stadler, a Swiss company, but will be manufactured in Utah.
Construction on the TEXRail tracks continues with a major road closure on eastbound Texas 114/121 scheduled from 8 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday, said Brian Murnahan, public relations officer for TEXRail. The closure will allow workers to erect beams for the 1,400-foot bridge that will carry trains over the highway and into DFW Airport. More highway closures are expected in the coming weeks.