Fort Worth Neighborhoods Balk at Walmart Market Design

City zoning commission gives store 30-day continuance

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    NEWSLETTERS

    City members protest WalMart's design in Fort Worth's Urban Village.

    The future of Fort Worth's newest Walmart Neighborhood Market is in jeopardy.

    The city zoning commission on Wednesday gave a 30-day continuance to the store slated for West Berry and Hemphill streets.

    Walmart representative Tom Galbreath, of Dunaway Associates, said he had a deadline of Feb. 6 and that a continuance would essentially end the project.

    Community Demands High Standards for Urban Village

    [DFW] Community Demands High Standards for Urban Village
    City members protest WalMart's design in Fort Worth's Urban Village.

    Opponents said the original plans for the store did not meet criteria set up a decade ago for a Berry-Hemphill urban village.

    "We're not against the Walmart; we just want them to do it right and conform to the Urban Village Master Plan," said Fernando Florez, president of the South Hemphill Heights Neighborhood Association.

    The plan requires that new buildings and modification to old buildings be intended more for pedestrians than drivers.

    Florez sent a letter to the commission urging it to deny the Walmart plan.

    Opponents say they created the master plan for a reason and don't want to start letting developers ignore it because it would kill the urban village plan.

    But some in the community say the store plans should be accepted because of the lack of progress on the Berry-Hemphill Urban Village.

    "For over 10 years, there's been absolutely no interest, and we get a developer and investor that wants to come in, and I think that will help kick start it and make that urban village a reality," said Christopher Bonilla, a voting member of the Hemphill Corridor Task Force.

    Galbreath brought new store plans to Wednesday's meeting that city staff said appears to meet the urban village requirements.

    But residents such as Florez said they need time to look at the plans because they saw them for the first time at the meeting.

    The zoning commission appeared torn over whether to approve or deny the project.

    The discussion covered numerous topics, including whether the requirements were restrictive to growth, if denying Walmart would kill any chance for an urban village and if loosening the requirements for one store would bring the entire project's goals down.

    In the end, the commission reluctantly approved a 30-day continuance. The developer had asked it to fast track a decision to the City Council and said a delay could endanger the project.

    Those opposed to the designs said they're still hopeful that the project will go ahead.

    "The door is still open," Florez said. "If they want to sit down discuss this, present the plan to us, that's fine."

    But others, including some on the commission, said they worry the delay won't help the urban village's future.

    "I kind of believe that this is going to be a negative for the area," Bonilla said. "And I believe that corner is going to stay vacant for a lengthy period of time."

    If Walmart decides to continue with the project, the City Council will have the final say.