Add another feather in Fort Worth's cap: A new survey has named Fort Worth the best downtown in America for 2014. Livability.com cited a growing population, new retail and residential developments, and a more walkable environment in Cowtown's No. 1 ranking.
Providence, Rhode Island, and Indianapolis rounded out the first three slots. No other Texas cities made the top 10 list.
"Having a great downtown is about more than just having a great main street," Livability.com editor Matt Carmichael said in a statement. "A downtown should have a cultural and retail focal point, like a main street, but it has to expand beyond that, providing a solid core for the entire community."
The survey praised Fort Worth's Trinity River Vision Project, which will develop 800 acres connecting downtown, the Cultural District and the Stockyards and could effectively double the size of downtown. Bass Hall and Sundance Square also got a nod, as did Fort Worth's 13 parks and 80 locally owned restaurants.
"Few downtowns have achieved the cohesion between cowboy culture and urban sophistication that Fort Worth has," reads the survey. Livability.com also notes the city's central business occupancy rate of 92 percent leads all Texas cities, and its retail vacancy rate fell by 2.6 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Noticeably absent from Livablity's survey are downtown behemoths such as New York City and San Francisco. The 2014 rankings gave "considerable weight" to population growth, as well as the ratio of downtown residents to jobs. Those metrics gave way to under-the-radar cities cracking the top of the rankings.
"The way to have a really vibrant downtown is to have residents there who can support the businesses and provide that life on the street to make the area seem more lively and safer," said Sheila Grant of Downtown Idea Exchange and Downtown Promotion Reporter.