Fort Worth

Are Fort Worth’s parking rules getting in the way of development?

Are parking meters coming to Magnolia Avenue, Fairmount district in Fort Worth?

Near Southside district in Fort Worth considering parking meters on Magnolia Avenue, Fairmount residential permits. They say all the spaces are utilized, mostly but all-day parking and meters could create a turnover.
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Near Southside district in Fort Worth considering parking meters on Magnolia Avenue, Fairmount residential permits. They say all the spaces are utilized, mostly but all-day parking and meters could create a turnover.

Developers trying to re-imagine historic property in Fort Worth may not have to consider parking anymore.

In a report to the City Council this week, city preservation employees suggested doing away with parking requirements for properties with historic designations. Parking requirements vary based on building size and use, but they often run counter to historic preservation, said Justin Newhart, acting manager of the city’s preservation department. The proposal is to nix parking space requirements for about 6,800 properties with historic designations.

Guidelines for historic buildings establish lot sizes and configurations based on the the period the structure was built. Most of the older sections of the city were built when Fort Worth was less car dependent, so those sites can be difficult to develop while meeting minimum parking standards, said.

“Staff recognized this as an ongoing issue years ago, particularly in areas of higher density,” Newhart said in an email.

Parking guidelines are based on the building’s use. Office spaces are required to have 2.5 spaces for every 1,000 square feet of floor area, single family homes require one to four spaces and apartment buildings need one space per bedroom plus one per 250 square feet of common space. About 95% of the properties in question are residential and many of those have ample parking in the form of driveways and garages, Newhart said.

These rules can interfere with saving historically important buildings, said John Roberts, a former chairman of Historic Fort Worth.

“A lot of developers or owners will walk a way because of parking issues,” Roberts said. “They might just let the building sit in a state of disrepair. We call the demolition through neglect.”

Dak Hatfield of Hatflied Advisors, a commercial brokerage and development firm, agreed.

He pointed to 212 S. Main St. as one such property. Though the building now has a parking lot, Hatfield said the former car dealership was built at time when abundant parking wasn’t necessarily needed. Later this month remodeling will begin ahead of the opening of Austin bar Nickel City in the front of the building. Offices will be on the second floor.

Hatfield speculated that most visitors to the bar would arrive via ride share, transit or walk from the surrounding neighborhood.

Generally parking requirements should be up to the developer, he said, even at properties that aren’t historic in nature.

“My intention is to minimize parking as much as possible,” he said. “That way we’re not putting a whole bunch of concrete on property that could be patios or landscaping.”

In some parts of the Near Southside, developers aren’t required to provide a certain number of spaces. Near Southside Inc. and the city are exploring placing parking meters along Magnolia Avenue and using residential parking permits to limit the number of cars parked on the street in Fairmount.

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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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