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Should this Paschal-area church become apartments? Neighborhood has concerns

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An apartment complex planned near Paschal High School has neighbors worried about traffic and parking, but the developer says the project is early in the planning stages and is likely to evolve.

A Paschal Neighborhood neighborhood meeting is planned Thursday at the SouthSide City Church — the same site at 2100 W. Lowden St. that could become more than two dozen apartments across from the Paschal High School baseball fields. The church has sold and TownSite Company applied for a zoning change that would allow the roughly one acre lot to become apartments.

Neighbors say an apartment complex is too dense for an area that is already congested from street parking and school-related traffic. They’re hoping to work something out with the developer before the city council votes Tuesday on a proposed zoning change.

“We’re not against progress or development,” said Rick Garcia, Paschal Neighborhood Association president. “We’re just not sure this is the right location.”

Mary Nell Poole with TownSite Company said the building would follow nearly the exact same footprint as the church, with the parking in the same location. She cautioned that plans haven’t been finalized and her hope is to continue to work with the neighborhood to find a middle ground.

“We’re really working with them to make sure this is something that will fit and be viable for the neighborhood,” she said.

In the most recent plan, three townhouse-style units would face south on the Lowden side of the property. Each would be three stories with three to four bedrooms. The building would step down to two stories with one and two bedroom options in the rear, closer to the single-family homes to the north. The building would have 26 units.

Poole said the parking lot would have five more spots than needed.

But J.D. Barnes, who lives nearby, said parking and traffic are still a concern. The narrow residential streets of Lowden, Frazier Avenue and Townsend Drive quickly become crowded with cars, especially when both Paschal and TCU students park in the neighborhood, he said.

“The traffic has just gotten so bad, especially with people parking on the streets,” he said. “It’s a real danger.”

Several denser housing develops, including townhouses, have been built in the neighborhood in recent years, he said. If the rental market collapses, he said he and neighbors are worried about vacant homes.

“This doesn’t sound like progress to me,” he said.

It is likely the Paschal area will continue to evolve.

Not only is it close to TCU, but most of the neighborhood is within a mile of a planned TEXRail stop at Cleburne Road and West Berry Street.

That stop would connect the TCU area to downtown and DFW Airport, but could be several years away. Officials at Trinity Metro, the transit agency that owns TEXRail, believe it’s realistic to extend the line 1.5 miles and open a station in Fort Worth’s medical district possibly within three to four years, but it’s unclear when the Berry Street stop would become a reality.

The city, through incentives and zoning, has been encouraging redevelopment around commuter rail lines. Developers can receive tax breaks for projects that blend commercial and residential and meet other requirements.

Developers haven’t applied for tax incentives on the Lowden Street project yet. The city zoning commission voted against the proposal 3-5 in August.

Long term plans for the area around Paschal High School call for multifamily complexes to buffer the single-family homes from denser development that may come to Cleburne and Berry.

While the Lowden Street apartments fall into that zone, Garcia said the high school already provides about two blocks of buffer.

“We’re getting to almost the middle of the neighborhood, and that’s too far in for apartments,” he said.

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Luke Ranker covers the intersection of people and government focused on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He came to Texas from the plains of Kansas, where he wrote about a lot, including government, crime and courts in Topeka. He survived a single winter in Pennsylvania as a breaking news reporter. He can be reached at 817-390-7747 or lranker@star-telegram.com.
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