Fort Worth

Pace picking up on plans to redevelop World War II-era Fort Worth public housing sites

Cavile Place is one of two remaining low-income public housing complexes. Plans call for its residents to be in new units by the of 2018 and the World War II-era buildings torn down.
Cavile Place is one of two remaining low-income public housing complexes. Plans call for its residents to be in new units by the of 2018 and the World War II-era buildings torn down. Star-Telegram archives

It’s getting closer to the day that Fort Worth will see the last of World War II-era public housing buildings.

Fort Worth Housing Solutions, the housing authority of the city of Fort Worth, plans to start construction in the first quarter on the initial phase of new apartments at Rosedale and Amanda streets and at Rosedale and Stalcup Road, in east Fort Worth, where some residents of the nearby Cavile Place will move to by mid-2018.

The agency, once called Fort Worth Housing Authority, also got the ball rolling on another project in August, putting out a call for a master developer for Butler Place, on the east edge of downtown Fort Worth, that it hopes to have in place by the first of the year. In late October, the agency plans to host developers attending the Urban Land Institute’s fall meeting in Dallas to view the site, potentially fast-tracking a redevelopment of the complex built in the early 1940s. It is bounded by Interstates 30 and 35W and U.S. 287.

Replacing the two remaining low-income public housing complexes has been in the works for years.

Fort Worth Housing Solution has partnered with Madhouse Development Services in Austin and Atlantic Pacific Development in Miami on Cavile Place, on the city’s east side, and intentions are to next month request noncompetitive 4 percent housing tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to help finance the project. A Cavile Place concept plan has been in place since 2014.

Fort Worth Housing Solutions has also acquired more than 30 parcels totaling about 9 acres throughout the neighborhood to build units for Cavile Place residents, but they are still needing to buy more land, said Naomi Byrne, Fort Worth Housing Solutions president.

“We’ve acquired quite a bit of land,” she said. “We are working on finalizing design for the first phase. What we do is really going to depend on what we acquire.”

Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, whose district includes Cavile Place, said “it’s going to be a new day,” when Cavile is torn down. Her concern now is to make sure an appropriate development will take its place. Developers and others are waiting for the day as well, she said.

“I’m just real excited about what I see coming,” Bivens said.

Market demands

For more than 15 years, the agency has been working to change the face of public housing in the city. That was set in motion when it sold the former Ripley Arnold public housing complex at Belknap and Henderson streets to RadioShack Corp., which built a glistening corporate campus on the Trinity River banks. The property is now owned by the Tarrant County College District.

That $20 million sale gave the housing authority the money to move forward on the decentralization of low-income people in one place.

“It was a great opportunity for Fort Worth Housing at the time,” Byrne said. “The sale of Ripley Arnold gave the organization the seed money.”

Today, residents of the agency are located in 30 developments across the city, where low-income people live among those paying the going market-rate rents. Cavile Place and Butler Place are the last remaining complexes dedicated solely to low-income people.

About 300 families live in Cavile Place and 412 in Butler Place. Both should be empty by the end of 2018, Byrne said.

Byrne said both housing sites will be redeveloped, although they would consider selling Butler if the offer was right. Being close to downtown, the site is ideal for a corporate relocation, she said. It has been suggested the site be renamed Terrell Hill.

What’s rebuilt on the Cavile site will depend on the market, Byrne said.

“That’s going to be dependent on what’s built up until then and what the neighborhood’s appetite is,” Byrne said. “There’s so much of it that’s up in the air, but so much opportunity we have to make significant difference and changes in these neighborhoods.”