The Ash Crescent neighborhood, a high-poverty, high-crime “no man’s land” south of Rosedale Street and between Riverside Drive and the Martin Luther King Freeway, is on tap to receive $2.77 million in revitalization efforts in 2018.
The area, with a population of 1,706 people, is the second neighborhood in as many years chosen to receive the one-time city money. The program is designed to make the neighborhood safer and attract private development through improvements.
On Tuesday, the city staff recommended the neighborhood during a special meeting of the Housing and Neighborhood Services Committee of the City Council.
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Staff described the area as a “no man’s land” that the city has paid little attention to. There are a few single-family homes under construction there, but for the most part there are many vacant lots, illegal dumping and widespread litter, and a great need for street and sidewalk improvements.
Business owners, residents and pastors in the neighborhood will meet Jan. 17 to begin talking about what needs to be done.
“I want us all to be mindful that in this neighborhood there is not a park, not any type of city facility. It really is its own island,” said District 8 Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, whose district includes the proposed area. “To say that $2.7 million is going to answer all of the community’s needs is by far a huge stretch. But it will start to address some of the things we have not been able to do there and have not done there for many of the people who have lived there for a lifetime. “
“This is going to be a very grassroots effort. it is going to require us knocking on doors,” she said.
The area’s unemployment rate is 16.2 percent, more than twice the citywide average of 7.5 percent. The median household income is $17,500 and only 26 percent of the residents are high school graduates, according to figures. The rate of assaults, sex offenses and homicides is 53 percent higher than the city average.
The city is finishing a neighborhood revitalization pilot program in Cavile Place/Stop Six on the east side Rosedale Avenue. Rosedale and Riverside Drive is the main intersection in the newly chosen neighborhood.
“The needs are obvious,” Fernando Costa, an assistant city manager said. “In parts of the neighborhood, you wonder if you’re in Fort Worth. This is truly a distressed neighborhood.”
The poverty rate in Ash Crescent is 50 percent, second behind Stop Six, where the poverty rates tips at 64 percent. The city’s average poverty rate is 18.8 percent.
“We’ve learned a lot from Stop Six,” Costa said. “We know the importance of working closely with neighborhood leaders in allocating the funds. We know the importance of multiple city departments working together on common goals.”
The proposed neighborhood is in the middle of three urban villages that over the years have seen substantial investment. Those are Evans and Rosedale, and Polytechnic Heights/Texas Wesleyan University and Berry/Riverside urban villages.
“TWU has a lot of momentum going,” Costa said. “Evans and Rosedale has made some progress. It has been the subject of substantial public investment. It’s fair to say, the private investment has not yet followed in full force.”
A list of six neighborhoods was narrowed to three in the selection process. Las Vegas Trail and Hillside Morningside, which is adjacent to Ash Crescent, were also considered. The Star-Telegram has been writing a series of stories about the plight of Las Vegas Trail on the city’s far west side.
“The Ash Crescent area, in objective terms, has arguably more pressing needs,” Costa said.
In addition to crime rates, selection is based on household income, unemployment and the need for basic infrastructure such as street and sidewalk improvements and street lights.
The full council will hear the pitch during a Jan. 23 work session and vote to approve the neighborhood on Jan. 30.
“In Stop Six we’re seeing more interest on the part of developers than we’ve seen in many years,” Costa said.