There’s not much going on at the corner of Rosedale Street and Amanda Avenue.
With the exception of a relatively new Family Dollar on the north side of Rosedale, vacant lots, lonely sidewalks and few trees make up this Stop Six intersection. In fact, most of Stop Six is pockmarked by empty lots where dilapidated homes once stood.
That wasn’t always the case, and it will certainly change if a sizable redevelopment to replace the aging public housing complex Cavile Place gets off the ground.
Fort Worth Housing Solutions, a housing developer and other consultants have spent much of the summer meeting with Stop Six and Cavile Place residents about the area’s future. The more than 200 units at Cavile Place will shutter, and the project built in the 1950s will be bulldozed as the housing authority looks to place 1,000 townhomes and apartments across Stop Six with a focus on mixing income levels.
Now, with plans firming up, Fort Worth Housing Solutions will apply by the end of October for a $35 million grant needed to kick start the redevelopment. The entire project could run close to $340 million, with about 80% of that spent on housing units, so significant city and private investment will be needed. Ground breaking could come in 2021.
Residents may not fully comprehend the changes that will be coming to the neighborhood, Historic Stop Six president Eddie Brinkley said, but he hoped they wouldn’t be “anything other than ecstatic.”
Designs from St. Louis-based McCormack Baron Salazar, a for-profit developer that specializes in building mixed income housing in urban neighborhoods, show at least three-story buildings lining Amanda and Rosedale with a mix of shops at street level and apartments above. The hope is development will anchor future growth and bring stores, cafes and restaurants to the east Fort Worth neighborhood.
“We’re talking about jobs. Jobs bring life to a place,” Brinkley said.
Like with Butler Place near downtown Fort Worth, Fort Worth Housing Solutions is transferring residents to homes around town using low-income housing vouchers. It’s apart of a housing philosophy Fort Worth has followed for nearly 20 years, said Mary-Margaret Lemons, president of the Fort Housing Solutions.
Poverty should not be concentrated in traditional housing projects like Cavile Place, Lemons said.
“Everyone deserves a home but to do better you have to see better,” she said. “Having different types of neighbors allows everyone to be exposed to different ways to dream and pursue goals.”
Roughly 300 of the 1,000 new units coming to Stop Six will be for public housing-eligible families, designed to allow the families of Cavile Place to return. Another chunk, a precise number wasn’t available, will be for residents making up to 60% of the area’s median income while other units will be listed at market rate.
The $35 million federal Choice Neighborhood grant that Fort Worth Housing Solutions is seeking locks the housing authority into providing homes first to former Cavile Place residents before opening the doors to others. Tabatha Lewis and her grandchild are among the roughly 250 Cavile Place families that have received vouchers to relocate.
At first she was apprehensive about moving, she said. She’s lived in other public housing complexes that have closed, like Ripley Arnold Place, and has moved in and out of Cavile Place three times since 2003. But she hopes the move will put her in a four-bedroom home off Berry Street on the southern edge of Stop Six, a location that means more space for her and the seven kids. It’s also a short bus ride to her new job at the Family Dollar.
“I’ve never lived in a house in my whole life, so I’m grateful for that,” she said. “I’m going to be able to watch this development come up around me.”
The existing Cavile Place lot will be developed into a mix of townhouse-style homes and walk-up apartment buildings. A new “community hub” will open at the corner of Avenue G and Liberty Street that will be home to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development EnVision Center, a one-stop-shop of sorts for residents to find resources like job training and healthcare. It will replace the HUD center at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.
Other locations will also be redeveloped.
Renderings show apartments and townhouses planned for Miller and Rosedale and in the southern part of the neighborhood at Ramey and Edgewood Terrace. A new senior living building will be at Rosedale and Stalcup.
Designs emphasize big porches, many windows and easy walking across the neighborhood, said Mike Saunders, a senior vice president with McCormack Baron Salazar. The company specializes in designing neighborhoods where low-income renters mix with higher earners.
“You know, traditional neighborhoods, and a variety of housing types, family types of income types, and that’s what we’re just trying to go back to,” he said.
But to get there, significant funding is needed.
The city may commit up to $14 million in future bond money for improvements to the community center and a little more than $11 million for housing. Fort Worth Housing Solutions requested about $25 million for streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure but the city can only currently spend about $1.5 million, assistant city manager Fernando Costa said. The city plans to spend roughly $15 million on other infrastructure in Stop Six.
Anyone who lives in Stop Six or takes a drive down the Alphabet-named streets knows the neighborhood has been neglected for years. But new homes are dotted among the overgrown vacant lots.
Small levels of new investment are due in part to the neighborhood, where more than 75% of residents are low- to moderate-income, being the pilot location for targeted city investment. Since 2017, the city has spent about $2.5 million in new sidewalks, lighting and other measures meant to make the area safer.
As the city invested money, private developers have too. Building permits in Stop Six have steadily risen. In 2015 the city granted 143 permits worth about $4.5 million in work. Last year nearly 200 were granted for nearly $11.9 million in work, and so far this year 167 permits have been granted for a little under $8 million in work.
The city also did away with guidelines meant to preserve the neighborhood’s history that critics said stifled development, said Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, who group up around Stop Six. She has been responsible in her own way for renewed interest in Stop Six. She’s been a vocal cheerleader of the neighborhood and at one point led a bus tour with developers touting the city’s investment and advertising the vacant lots ready for new buildings.
“Positive things are happening in Stop Six,” she said.
Bivens is excited about new development, but said the city needs to ensure “pop up shacks,” cheaply built homes with few windows, don’t become the norm in Stop Six.
“I think it’s important we provide some guidance so people know we have uplifting expectations,” she said.
The Rev. Michael Moore grew up in Stop Six and returned about two years ago to renovate his parents’ home. Like many longtime Stop Six residents, he recalled a time when many considered the neighborhood “the country.”
“Almost everybody had gardens they ate from, or you’d go to neighbors to buy produce,” he said. “Agriculture was a big part of the culture.”
He said he hoped community gardens, a signature part of redevelopment plans aimed at tackling a lack of grocery options in Stop Six, will honor the neighborhood’s past. But he also described a future similar to the communities near TCU with coffee shops, music halls, restaurants and boutiques popping up as Stop Six grows toward Texas Wesleyan University’s campus.
If growth comes to Stop Six, it’s important that outsiders don’t push out longtime residents. Those living at Cavile Place and around the neighborhood should grow together, he said.
“Anytime you talk about bringing investment into a predominantly black community, there’s a worry about gentrification,” he said. “You want to elevate people along the way so they can stay here.”