Calling the site a diamond in the rough, Criterion Property Co. swung a wrecking ball to remove a small two-story brick building along Race Street on Thursday to make room for a 322,000-square-foot residential, office and retail development.
The River East will sit on 2.5 acres at 2900 Race St. east of downtown and provide an anchor for future redevelopment of the area, Criterion’s president, Pretlow Riddick, told a couple of dozen people at a groundbreaking ceremony. The project has been in the works for about four years since Criterion started buying up property.
Criterion typically likes to do single building projects, but after researching Fort Worth, Riddick and his investors decided to do more along Race Street, he said. A year ago, Criterion broke ground on The Scenic at River East, a 276-unit town home development off Oakhurst Scenic Drive and Race near the banks of the Trinity River. Residents have begun moving in.
When we started to do the research on Fort Worth, we were excited for the growth opportunities. There’s a lot of underutilized land and run down buildings. We could see past that and saw land with topography and mature trees.
Pretlow Riddick, Criterion Property Co. president
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“We like to go to a flourishing neighborhood and find a really good site and we build a project,” Riddick said. “That’s not what we’ve undertaken in this neighborhood. When we started to do the research on Fort Worth, we were excited for the growth opportunities. There’s a lot of underutilized land and run-down buildings. We could see past that and saw land with topography and mature trees.”
The River East will have 181 apartments ranging in size from 600 square feet to 1,331 square feet. The development also will include 13,500 square feet of space set aside for live/work spaces for small businesses and artists. One 2,200-square-foot live/work space has been set aside for fitness, Riddick said.
In addition, 4,400 square feet is earmarked for co-working space and 3,000 square feet for shops or restaurants. Residents should be able to move into the new units in October 2018, the developer said.
In 2016, Criterion received a $1.3 million property tax abatement on The Scenic at River East project. Also last year, the City Council approved a tax abatement on the Race Street project and an Enhanced Community Facilities Agreement for $1 million with Criterion, in the Six Points Neighborhood Empowerment Zone, for public improvements to Plumwood Street and other public connections through the project site.
Criterion also has received some abatements from Tarrant County.
Councilwoman Ann Zadeh, whose district includes Race Street and the Six Points Urban Village centered around the Race Street commercial center located at Riverside and Belknap streets, said the project is a good example of a public-private partnership.
As a city we were very forward-thinking having those plans in place to revitalize those corridors. Now that private partners are coming in and partnering with city... we are actually seeing some really positive things happening in these communities.
Ann Zadeh, District 9 councilwoman
“It is an example of the types of things we have throughout our community that are a commitment in helping to revitalize our older neighborhoods and not to continue in a sprawling manner,” Zadeh said. “I am very fortunate to represent many of the urban villages. As a city, we were very forward-thinking having those plans in place to revitalize those corridors. Now that private partners are coming in and partnering with the city ... we are actually seeing some really positive things happening in these communities.”
Drew Kile, senior director at Institutional Property Advisors in Fort Worth, said the Race Street project will provide a great alternative for people who don’t want to live in more bustling areas of the city, such as the West Seventh Street corridor. It also provides much-needed residential units at affordable rents.
“People don’t realize how quickly Fort Worth is growing,” Kile said. “This is really a cool area.”