Northeast Tarrant

Has Haltom City found its groove? City leaders, residents think so

Haltom Theatre on the rise

Two families are restoring the historic Haltom Theater where there are plans for live concerts, movies, and professional wrestling.
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Two families are restoring the historic Haltom Theater where there are plans for live concerts, movies, and professional wrestling.

This midsized city is not often mentioned as a player in the game of growth and development, but that’s about to change. The rapid growth in Northeast Tarrant County has crept into Haltom City, and construction soon will start on two hotels, luxury apartments, a subdivision and restaurants.

While growth has been stagnant in recent years — especially when the North Tarrant Express was under construction — city leaders and residents have a new sense of enthusiasm about their community’s future.

Haltom City Mayor David Averitt said the city began planning for the development around 10 years ago in anticipation of the highway widening project that runs from Interstate 35W to Euless.

“I don’t think the development we are seeing would have been possible without the North Tarrant Express. I don’t think we would have the quality development,” he said.

This Northeast Tarrant city of more than 44,000 residents is bounded by Fort Worth, Watagua, North Richland Hills and Richland Hills. Located about four miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth, Haltom City is dissected by a number of major highways, including U.S. 377, Loop 820, Texas 121 and the North Tarrant Express.

While developers are paying more attention, Haltom’s City Council is expected to call a bond election in February to fund a new city hall and police department, Averitt said.

Longtime resident Layla Caraway said the surge of activity has been a long time coming.

“We’ve been ready for change,” Caraway said. “We’ve got to give people more options of things to do in Haltom City.”

Marquee signs light the way

Anticipating the growth that would come after the completion of the North Tarrant Express, Assistant City Manager Rex Phelps said the city invested in beautifully landscaped roads and installed utilities along Loop 820.

The area is called Haltom Northern Crossing, and large monument signs depicting the marquee from the historic Haltom Theater greet motorists as they enter Haltom City.

In addition, the city has formulated a plan to create a mixed-use town center development on 43 acres owned by the Haltom City Economic Development Corp. The development would include such things as city facilities, a community events plaza, eateries and cafes, housing entertainment and retail. The land sits next to the Haltom City Public Library on Haltom Road.

Averitt said the City Council recently approved the first phase of the High-Pointe subdivision north of Loop 820.

The development north of the highway “is a catalyst for growth south of 820,” Averitt said.

To attract development, Haltom City built a new road north of 820 called High Pointe Drive and widened Northern Cross Boulevard south of the loop from Beach Street to Old Denton Road. This will allow development on the adjacent land. The project also included replacing water and sewer lines, storm drains and traffic signals.

Developer Stephen Barnes is building the High Pointe subdivision of 225 homes, ranging from $270,000 to $390,000, north of Loop 820 and east of Haltom Road. He is also building 960 luxury apartments.

The master-planned community will feature landscaping and water features.

And, another developer plans to build two hotels and several restaurants that are yet to be announced.

Nearby, another high-end master planned housing development already is under construction west of Beach Street north of Loop 820.

There also have been additions on Texas 121, near downtown Fort Worth, where Fuel City Tacos opened earlier this year with much fanfare.

New life for an old theater

Two families are also remodeling the old Haltom Theater, which will show movies during the week, then shift to concerts, live theater and professional wrestling on weekends.

Chaz Buchannan thought he was going to find an old theater to renovate in Dallas, but the minute he saw the Haltom Theater on East Belknap, which opened Dec. 7, 1941, the same day that Pearl Harbor was bombed, he knew that he had a diamond in the rough.

Since July, Buchannan, his parents Richard and Judy Buchannan and friends Darnell Smith and Janice Ashley have spent most of their time at the theater, stripping away years of neglect and restoring the building to what they hope will be the place to come in Northeast Tarrant County. They plan to open in January.

The theater closed in the 1970s, when it became Sam’s Furniture and Video. But hard times fell on that business, and the theater closed for good in 2000 and was vacant until the Buchannans found it.

The Buchannans aren’t the only ones to see promise within the city limits now that the traffic headaches have eased.

Caraway, who has spent most of her life in Haltom City, said she can’t imagine living anywhere else and has been pleased with the changes that are being made.

Caraway mentioned the recently dedicated Veterans Memorial Park, which has a 30-foot Triumph Arch and black granite globe representing the continents where soldiers fought.

She also is hopeful that the new hotels, restaurants and homes will bring in revenue so that Haltom City can update City Hall, and the police and fire departments, which date to the 1950s.

Buchanan said the city is on the precipice of doing something special and the theater could be the start of a new arts district

“The idea of all of these things happening together is like the perfect storm,” Buchannan said.

Elizabeth Campbell: 817-390-7696, @fwstliz