Will nearly $3 million in improvements reinvigorate this Fort Worth neighborhood?
Northside, a historic neighborhood between the Stockyards and downtown Fort Worth, received $3 million Tuesday for sidewalks, lighting and other community improvements.
While some fear the enhancements will lead to gentrification, many in the neighborhood welcome the investment.
“It has languished in need for decades,” Councilman Carlos Flores said of the neighborhood where he lives.
The Northside is the third neighborhood targeted with capital improvements designed to improve safety, aesthetics and investment after Stop Six and Ash Crescent. The city has set aside $3.05 million for Northside.
The historic neighborhood roughly bound by 23rd Street in the north, Jacksboro Highway in the south, Ellis Avenue to the east and Roosevelt Avenue to the west, will be the city’s largest neighborhood targeted for revitalization in this way. Aubrey Thagard, director of the city’s neighborhood services department, told the Star-Telegram in December it was the city’s “most ambitious undertaking yet.”
The neighborhood will be targeted to prevent what Flores has called “decay.”
Northside’s crime rate of 71 offenses per 1,000 people is higher than the city’s 61 per 1,000 but lower than that of Ash Crescent and Stop Six. Nearly 28 percent of its residents live at or below the poverty line and more than 9 percent of the neighborhood is unemployed. About 39 percent of the residential properties are owned by landlords and 15 percent of homes are overcrowded, according to the city.
More than 11,600 people live in Northside, almost three times the populations of Stop Six and Ash Crescent combined.
In Stop Six, a historic east Fort Worth neighborhood, crime has dropped 23 percent and home values have increased 24 percent since the city began work there.
Ash Crescent has also seen improvements since the city started investing earlier this year. About 170 tons of trash and brush were removed from overgrown streets and vacant lots, and the city identified about 15 substandard homes, Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray said.
This latest targeted effort was met with optimism from many Northside residents.
Cassie Warren, who moved to the neighborhood more than a year ago, said she immediately noticed the sidewalks “are not up to par.”
Former Northside councilman Sal Espino, speaking in Spanish and English, said the revitalization would be community driven and wouldn’t work without significant input from neighbors.
“Let’s go forward,” he said.
Not everyone was so certain the improvements would benefit current residents.
Arnoldo Hurtado, a Northside resident, said many of his neighbors feared the city’s plan would increase property values and lead to gentrification.
A canvass of 200 homes found that the majority of residents were unaware of the city’s investment, he said. He urged the council to postpone the vote until more residents had been informed.
The vote accepts the money for the program, said Flores, who added that neighborhood meetings and surveys in both Spanish and English will help home in on specific projects. The $3.05 million allocated Tuesday comes from a half cent municipal property tax used for capital improvement projects.
While the Fort Worth Stockyards is a prominent landmark north of downtown, the Northside target zone stops short of North Main to focus strongly on the residential neighborhood, which has been the target of other city resources.
More than $5.4 million was invested in the north side Community Center, including Community Development Block Grants, to improve access for residents and expand the facility and programs. In the 1400 block of Lee Avenue, five new homes are under construction through a city partnership designed to encourage home ownership.