Tension and friction have their place. They’re not always bad. Tension holds things up; friction keeps vehicles on the road and stops them when brakes are applied.
Tension and friction have certainly been applied to the renovation of houses in Fort Worth’s historic Fairmount District. But it can yet be a good thing.
Some residents complain that award-winning upstart builder 6th Avenue Homes isn’t adhering closely enough to historic preservation requirements. They’ve made their complaints known on social media, at City Hall and with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce — which not too long ago named the firm Small Business of the Year.
If the neighbors are sticklers, so is the law — which closely protects the architectural integrity of even battered and neglected structures in what is one of the nation’s largest historic residential districts. Every exterior detail is scrutinized, from the composition and look of windows and doors to chimneys and columns to roofs, bricks, siding and porch floors.
Although acknowledging running afoul of the city three times on one house, 6th Avenue co-owner Jamey Ice neither looks nor sounds like someone trying to either cut corners or turn a buck. A native of Fort Worth who gained added appreciation for his hometown on his many travels, which have included being in a touring rock band, Ice and his best friend became hooked on rehabbing older homes in the area and helping others do the same, which led organically to 6th Avenue Homes’ creation in 2016.
In short, despite oddly never managing to be in the same room together, it sure appears both sides in this quandary are just trying to do what’s best for the area.
In the end, the tension may end up accomplishing that. While espousing long-held love and respect for older homes — and aiming to help restore not just homes, but neighborhoods and perhaps some people along the way — Ice says this give-and-take has made his colleagues and him more assiduous about preserving the past.
“We’ve learned to do our business better because of it,” he told us. “Accountability is a good thing.”
As earnest as the 34-year-old Ice is, 6th Avenue’s millennial-infused, excitable, showy style — and youth’s eternal penchant for questioning rules — has no doubt led to some overlooked details and disquieted critics. Ice says the company must, and will, do a better job of doing things by the book. In this case, the history book.
But again, there are no bad guys here — only good guys who all love this bungalow-brimming time capsule in a city that knows a little something about history. We’d urge the various parties to recognize their common cause and to, finally, get together and talk.
Sunday’s news headline asked intriguingly, “Are millennials killing Fairmount?” It’s worth asking, though upon inspection the answer is quite the opposite. Yes, there has always been a collision of worlds between old and young — and it was once asked in song of today’s aging baby boomers, “What’s the matter with kids today?” But what today’s “kids” are bringing to the heart of Fort Worth is a vitality, verve and vision that has the capacity to breathe new life into a historic district needing a little nudge into the future.
They just need to be careful about how they do it.