Urban village still a good concept, even when it’s hard to make a reality

Posted Monday, Nov. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The term “urban village” is not an oxymoron as rejuvenated areas in several Fort Worth neighborhoods have proven during the last few years.

But, as pointed out Sunday in a detailed story in this newspaper, such a designation also is neither a self-fulfilling prophecy nor an automatic road map to renewal.

Resurrecting neighborhoods that seemingly have had the life sucked out of them, takes a lot of planning, commitment, hard work and, of course, economic investments.

Since 2002, Fort Worth has created 16 urban villages — small, dense areas which are zoned for multiuse development and are inviting to pedestrians and mass transit. And it is no surprise that the West Seventh Street “village” between downtown and the Cultural District has been an explosive success while one in southeast Fort Worth (Berry/Stalcup in Stop Six) basically has been dormant for about 10 years.

Neither is it a shock that 12 of the 16 urban villages are located in two of the eight city council districts because they are areas that developers have found more promising.

As the city council prepares to call a new bond issue for next year, there is more discussion among council members and area residents about a proposed $9 million that would be used to invest in these inner-city renewal projects. Part of the debate is the classic chicken-and-egg question of whether the city should invest money before developers are interested, or wait for the interest before allocating city funds.

The council still must wrestle with that one but, in doing so, it should not give up too easily on those sections of town that have been among the most neglected, still face serious challenges and badly need an economic shot in the arm. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean a serious attempt should not be made.

And sometimes that means putting the egg (the money) before the chicken.

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