Standing in front of a new 83-foot clock tower, the president of Texas Wesleyan gestured toward a stretch of East Rosedale Avenue.
Long-vacant storefronts are being restored for future occupants. Down the street, student artists are creating works at a newly renovated 1914 fire station. Promenade-style sidewalks and old-fashioned light poles lend a quaint Main Street vibe.
The changes are part of what university officials call the Rosedale Renaissance, a multimillion-dollar project to revitalize the campus and the often-neglected Polytechnic neighborhood.
“This is a complete transformation in the look and feel of this area,” President Fred Slabach said. “It’s an important step for Texas Wesleyan and for southeast Fort Worth. We are thrilled.”
On Thursday, university officials will join city and county leaders to dedicate the project, which is designed to give the area a pedestrian-friendly, urban village feel.
It’s an important step for Texas Wesleyan and for southeast Fort Worth. We are thrilled.
Wesleyan President Fred Slabach
The face-lift includes $32 million in street improvements, such as benches, sidewalk expansions and ornamental lights, most of which came from the city of Fort Worth. A $1 million federal grant and an additional $375,000 in state funding from Tarrant County were earmarked to help offset construction costs.
Texas Wesleyan spent about $6.7 million on additional improvements.
$32 million in street improvements to East Rosedale, such as benches, sidewalk expansions and ornamental lights.
A formal entryway to campus
The centerpiece is a new university entryway, which includes a reflecting pool, stone monument signs and the clock tower, now the tallest structure in southeast Fort Worth.
“In its 125-year history, this campus has never really had a formal entry,” Slabach said. “It was time we changed that.”
Adjacent to Wesleyan, the university renovated the old Polytechnic Firehouse, which is now home to its art department, and a historic building on Rosedale that houses Wesleyan’s Community Counseling Center.
Next year, it plans to renovate another historic building on Rosedale for the new Business Incubator Center, said Brian Franks, the university’s executive director of facilities. The center will provide business consultation services to aspiring entrepreneurs in the community, as well as internship opportunities for Wesleyan business students.
Additionally, the university built a new conference center for the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Among the new additions at Wesleyan is a conference center for the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“This is what we think of as our critical thinking hub,” Slabach said. “We are extending our academic institutions into the community.”
Driving economic development
Beverly Volkman Powell, who chairs Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, said the Rosedale Renaissance is a prime example of a successful public-private partnership. Most of the university’s contribution came from private donors.
“This project is not only enhancing the look of the campus and surrounding area,” Powell said. “It will serve as a catalyst and driving force for further economic development.”
University officials say they now hope to lure new college-oriented businesses to East Rosedale, where the university purchased and is renovating a row of vacant storefronts.
Student Body President Abbey Borghee said students have been overwhelmingly supportive of the Rosedale project.
“We are proud students, and we will be proud graduates,” she said. “We can show our friends and family around campus with pride.”
We can show our friends and family around campus with pride.
Student Body President Abbey Borghee
As for incoming businesses, she added, students have made a few requests.
“Tacos, pizza and a coffee shop,” Borghee said, laughing. “Students have been very clear about that.”
Rosedale Renaissance dedication
▪ 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Texas Wesleyan University, 1201 Wesleyan St.
▪ University officials will gather with local dignitaries, including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, at the new entryway to Texas Wesleyan University to celebrate and cut a ceremonial ribbon. A barbecue lunch and party will follow the ceremony.