Hoping to attract more development to the Stop Six area, the Fort Worth City Council is taking steps to remove the historic district that regulates building design in the neighborhood.
The council approved a resolution June 28 that would start the process of removing the historic designation from the neighborhood. The vote was 8-0 with Councilman Jungus Jordan absent. In the coming months, the issue will go before the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commission and the Zoning Commission before returning to the city council for the final vote.
“Cities tend to have spots that have through the years gone down a little bit and Stop Six is one of those,” Mayor Betsy Price said. “It’s a great location. It’s a great community. They’re on the rise back up as we speak. They didn’t get where they’ve been overnight and they won’t get back up overnight. But I think this is a tremendous start, and I think it’s a great opportunity for the city.”
The district, known as Historic Stop Six: Sunrise Edition, spans approximately 392-acres roughly bounded by Ramey Avenue on the north, Stalcup Road on the east, Berry Street on the south and Langston Street on the west. If a developer wants to build within the district, the project must receive approval from the Landmarks Commission and abide by a set of written guidelines that govern design elements such as building materials, signage and landscaping.
According to Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, whose district includes Stop Six, not much development has come to the area since the district was established in 2007.
According to city data, the city reviewed 166 building permit applications between 2007 and May 2016. From 2001-2006, the city reviewed 142 applications.
Sevanne Steiner, the city’s interim historic preservation officer, said most of the permits have been either demolition requests or cases that involve a builder seeking a permit after construction has started.
The decision to remove the historic district comes after the city surveyed the area’s properties in October. According to a city staff report, more than 68 percent of the properties are considered “non-contributing,” meaning the property is either vacant land, a structure built after the mid-20th century or a structure that has gone through a significant alteration, therefore losing its historical character.
But Regina Blair, president of the Stop Six Sunrise Edition Neighborhood Association, disagrees with the city council’s move, saying the area would lose touch with its history. The Stop Six area was originally called Cowanville but became known as “Stop Six” because it was the sixth stop of the Dallas-Fort Worth interurban train line, which operated from 1902-1934.
“Complete eradication of the historic district is an unacceptable approach to sustainable public policy formulation and implementation,” she wrote in an email to the Fort Worth Business Press. “Such actions lack vision and fortitude needed to move a disenfranchised community forward.”
If the case passes, the city will encourage property owners to apply for historic designations individually, Steiner said. She said the city will also consider creating a “discontiguous district,” or several small districts within the area.
In addition to voting on the historic district, the city council also voted to collaborate with Fort Worth Housing Solutions, the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation, the Fort Worth Independent School District and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority in efforts to revitalize the Stop Six area. One of the ongoing projects is redevelopment of the Cavile Place apartments, which are located along Rosedale Street outside the historic district.
UBER, LYFT REGULATIONS
Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies (TNCs) are now under Fort Worth’s vehicle-for-hire rules, which require not much more than an operating license to do business in the city.
The city council voted 8-0 to add TNCs to its vehicle-for-hire ordinance. Previously, the ordinance only regulated taxis, limousines and shuttles.
Under the revised ordinance, TNCs will need to apply for an operating license from the city, which will cost $500 and be valid for two years.
To qualify for a license, companies must submit a compliance certification verifying that drivers have gone through background and driver’s license checks, and that vehicles have insurance and have passed state inspection and emission tests.
Other than that, companies will not need to comply with any other city, state or federal laws except those already in place.
“It goes back to a little less regulation and that’s not a bad thing,” Price said. “This is a free market enterprise. We feel strongly about the government being here to facilitate, not necessarily regulate.”
Uber issued the following statement after the vote: “We applaud the City of Fort Worth for adopting modern ridesharing rules that empower residents, students and visitors to request a ride or earn money at the touch of a button. Mayor Price and Councilman [Sal] Espino’s leadership on this important issue should be commended. This thoughtful approach to regulating ridesharing can serve as a model for other major cities across the state of Texas.”
The city spent more than a year discussing the ordinance, continually stressing that the ordinance should keep government regulation as minimal as possible. Back in May, Uber and Lyft announced they would leave Austin after voters defeated a proposition to reduce regulation of TNCs.
A previous version of the ordinance required drivers who pick up passengers from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to also obtain a driver ID and vehicle decal in compliance with airport regulations. That requirement was removed from the ordinance, as the airport will deal with drivers directly so they don’t have to go through the city, Assistant City Manager Jay Chapa said.
APARTMENTS FOR RACE STREET
A $49 million apartment project is coming to Race Street.
Dallas-based developer Criterion Development Partners is planning 346-unit apartment complex, which will be built in two phases. The first phase will be 151,000 square feet and stand between Race Street and Plumwood Street. The second phase will be 212,000 square feet and stand between Plumwood Street and East Belknap Street.
Criterion is requesting about $2.4 million in incentives from the city to help fund the first phase. The city council heard a staff presentation on the project during its pre-council meeting and is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the request Aug. 2.
Criterion is also building a 276-unit multifamily complex known as The Scenic, located east of the West Fork Trinity River about 10 minutes from downtown Fort Worth. The project broke ground in May.
PLAYGROUND FOR SENIORS
Playgrounds aren’t just for children anymore – come September, Forest Park will have a playground for senior citizens.
The city council voted 8-0 (Jordan absent) at its June 28 meeting to accept a grant worth about $76,400 from the North Texas Specialty Physicians Charitable Fund to fund the installation of an age-friendly playground. North Texas Specialty Physicians is a network of about 600 doctors in Tarrant, Johnson and Parker Counties.
The grant will pay for the entire installation, which is scheduled for completion in September.
The circular-shaped playground will be about 34 feet in diameter and have features like a rope net floor, turning wheels and a balance beam with handlebars.
“It provides the opportunity to strengthen balance and coordination in a fun way,” said Joel McElhany, capital program manager of the city’s Parks and Recreation department.
McElhany said this is the first age-friendly playground to be installed at a Fort Worth park.
Forest Park is located east of the Clear Fork Trinity River near University Drive.
• Truancy Court transition: Skipping school is not so cool. With truancy cases at a “significant decline,” according to a city staff report, the City of Fort Worth and Fort Worth Independent School District have transitioned truancy cases out of Truancy Court and into the Southwest Municipal Court. According to a city staff report, the school district’s efforts to prevent students from skipping school over the past two years, coupled with the Texas Legislature’s decision to decriminalize truancy last year, contributed to the decline. The city attorney’s office reported 183 truancy referrals in the 2015-2016 school year.
• Speed limit, school zone changes: Seventeen areas in Fort Worth will see changes to either the speed limit or school zone on a street, as the city council voted in favor of the Transportation and Public Works department’s recommendations for road adjustments. For example, the portion of North Sylvania Avenue between East Long Avenue and Meacham Boulevard will go from 45 mph to 40 mph. A new 20 mph school zone will also be established on a portion of White Settlement Road near Castleberry High School. For a list of all the changes, visit this shortlink: http://bit.ly/28ZrD7f
• Museum Place incentives: Plans to develop a hotel and additional restaurant and retail space at Museum Place on West Seventh Street will not be receiving city incentives for now. The city and developer Museum Place Holdings LLC have decided not to continue receiving city funding for the third and fourth phases of the Museum Place project (phases one and two have been completed) due to delays that occurred as a result of the 2008 recession. According to a city staff report, the project’s completion deadline was extended four times within the past eight years. Both parties opted to put a hold on funding rather than continue to extend completion deadlines. The city council’s vote June 28 made the decision official. Without the third and fourth phases, the city’s contribution to the project has been reduced from $26 million to $10 million. Museum Place owner Richard Garvey said incentives may be requested at a later date as the project proceeds.
• Local firms for road improvements: Fort Worth construction company Jackson Construction, Ltd., will receive about $11.5 million from the city to work on several road improvement projects on and around Marine Creek Parkway and Old Decatur Road. The city will also pay Fort Worth engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates up to $206,800 for project management and construction services. The projects total nearly $15 million. Construction is expected to begin in July and finish in “480 calendar days,” according to a city staff report.
• Meacham grant: The pavement on Fort Worth Meacham International Airport’s Taxiway-E is rated “poor to very poor” on the Pavement Condition Index, according to a city staff report so the city is applying for an approximately $2.2 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to help fund improvements. If TxDOT awards the grant, construction will begin in 2017. The project totals about $2.7 million.