Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
Beautification efforts including new signals, pocket parks, and other features are boosting businesses on Fort Worth's Camp Bowie Boulevard.
At nearly a century old, Fort Worth's Camp Bowie Boulevard has seen the good and the bad. The nine-mile stretch was once a major military artery during World War One and in recent years has seen a resurgence.
Things are looking up at 10 intersections along Camp Bowie these days. Specifically what's going up are new signal lights to replace the old wire held signals of the past.
The effort to beautify "The Boulevard" grows every year with the addition of new trees -- 185 last year alone -- but on average 40 new additions each year. The Camp Bowie District has also created pocket parks, with large numbers of trees and plants to go with benches. The district even received a $500,000 grant from TXDOT to complete median landscaping on the Camp Bowie West portion of the project.
"People think it's lofty, but we've made a big improvement over the past years," said Lisa Powers, Camp Bowie District President. "[The beautification] helps bolster the area and spur economic development."
Development has come to Camp Bowie in recent years. At Hilldale Road, new trees have been joined by two new banks and a shopping center where an empty lot and dilapidated building once stood. Now those new businesses are contributing back to the beautification.
"We are pleased to be an active role, a part of the community," said Nolan Atkins, Assistant Banking Center Manager at Comerica Bank. "When they are successful, the community is successful, we are as well."
Comerica is now sponsoring the district's "Glory Days Classic Car Show," one of the three major events thrown by the district each year.
But the effort to turn Camp Bowie back into what it once was and meant to the city isn't just being done by private means. The Fort Worth City Council approved new zoning rules for Camp Bowie, from I-30 to I-820. The zoning changes are intended to foster "high quality developments" and an urban village atmosphere.
"I think everywhere we're looking to get a little more feet on the pavement and more cars off," Powers said.
On Tuesday night the council is scheduled to vote on the final section of those zoning changes. A portion of the southside of Camp Bowie from Bryant Irvin Road to Hilldale Road was withheld from previous consideration due to parking and neighborhood impact concerns. That area will prohibit any bars or drinking establishments. Existing establishments will be grandfathered in, but any new business where alcohol sales is the primary source of income for the business will be in violation of the new rules.
Powers says they are working on several larger projects in the district that could be announced in the coming months. In an effort to fund those future beautification projects, the group held a pub crawl at several businesses at The Village on Camp Bowie on Monday night.