Baker Ahles & Kaskovich

May 25, 2014

Demolition of old fire station could spark development along Evans Avenue

Fort Worth’s No. 5 fire station was closed in April 2012 when a new facility opened on Irma Street.

City and civic leaders have concentrated on redeveloping the Evans Avenue corridor in southeast Fort Worth for 15 years. Now they believe that tearing down a building will help attract new development.

A city fire station on Evans between Verbena Street and Terrell Avenue that was closed two years ago will be razed. The vacant building sits on a much larger piece of land, and removing the structure would make the site even more desirable to developers, said Michael Brennan, planning director with Fort Worth South Inc.

“A lot of progress has been made so far,” Brennan told the Southside Tax Increment Finance District board last week. The board approved up to $100,000 for the demolition.

He said the No. 5 station, which closed in April 2012 when a new facility opened on Irma Street, has been vandalized. Removing it would make the property “much more marketable. Developers want to move quickly,” he said.

In recent years, Evans Avenue has seen the addition of the Hazel Harvey Peace Center, the Ella Mae Shamblee Branch of the Fort Worth Library, a new 7-Eleven convenience store and a Jack in the Box restaurant.

In 2004, the city built a community plaza that recognizes the city's historic African-American leaders on Evans Avenue, just north of Rosedale, to spur commercial development.

Several single-family homes are also being built in the surrounding neighborhoods.

GameStop draws RadioShack comparison

GameStop’s strong first-quarter earnings report last week should reassure investors that the videogame retailer is positioned to weather the industry’s transition to digital content, at least for now. The company’s profit rose 25 percent, sales of digital content are growing and there are aggressive plans to expand two new electronic chains to diversify the business.

Still there are doubters, as evidenced by this blog post on the Seeking Alpha website Thursday, before the earnings were released: “Will GameStop become RadioShack in 15 years or sooner?”

The comparison between Grapevine-based GameStop and Fort Worth-based RadioShack is natural. Both leading consumer electronics retailers, they have gone in opposite directions in the past decade as GameStop ascended with the popularity of videogames and RadioShack struggled to adapt to online and big-box competition. With videogames going digital, some wonder whether GameStop can sustain business at its thousands of small stores.

GameStop says it’s embracing the digital transformation. In a conference call with analysts, CEO Paul Raines said the company’s digital receipts in the quarter — from sales of digital games and downloadable content — equaled about a third of the sales from physical games. That, he said, is a significant business.

Also, a lot of its digital sales occur in GameStop stores, where customers can use trade credits gained by selling old games or equipment and compile points in the company’s PowerUp rewards program.

Mike Hogan, executive vice president of strategic business and brand development, told the Star-Telegram that many customers still prefer physical games because they don’t space to store a download or they want the residual value of the game so they can sell it in the future.

“We’re interested in selling physical content and we’re interested in selling digital content,” he said. “We want to deliver the consumer the best experience however they want the experience.”

But Seeking Alpha notes that new systems like Sony’s PlayStation 4 stream both new games and old ones, posing a threat to profitable used-game sales at GameStop stores.

“The physical game market will shrink significantly over the next decade or so, and while it won't go completely away (much like DVDs are still around), it will be much, much smaller,” the analysis said. “GameStop may become the RadioShack of the 2020s decade.” — Steve Kaskovich

Worker training

A manufacturing consortium of four Fort Worth-area companies has partnered with Tarrant County College to provide job training under an $889,886 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The companies include Alexander’s Machine and Maintenance Service Co., Four Seasons, Grover Corp. and Lear Operations Corp., according to Tarrant County College.

The grant is enough to train 581 new and experienced workers in emerging manufacturing technologies for assemblers, material handlers and machine operators.

On completing the program, the workers will earn $21.29 an hour.

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