Over the last few years the West 7th area of Fort Worth has gotten a lot of redevelopment attention, but now a new area is gaining momentum. The historic southeast part of town has seen several significant projects announced or completed in the last few weeks.
For the last seven years a foreclosed gas station along Interstate 35-W sat empty, but this week the city council gave the go-ahead on incentives to turn the broken down and rusted building into something worthwhile.
"We are offering some incentives, but we think it makes sense," said Kathleen Hicks, District 8 Councilwoman.
The project, called the Cowtown Market, will feature several eateries and new gas pumps. While that project is just getting off the ground, further up South Freeway another project is nearing completion with a new Jack in The Box set to open up later this month. Such fast food style projects may not sound like the basis for a revival of the historic area, but officials say such projects will spur others to come in and develop as well.
"We're trying to create an environment for sustainable, economic development, stores that will last," said Andre McEwing, Executive Director of Southeast Fort Worth, Inc., which helps work with developers and the city to revitalize the area.
McEwing's group and the city both believe projects like the Cowtown Market, Renaissance Square along East Berry Street and the Evans Avenue, and Rosedale Street Plaza near the Jack in the Box, are just the beginning of turning around an area that developers have steered clear of until just recently.
"Frankly, I think the area has been stereotyped that it's not the place to go in for redevelopment," Hicks said when asked why development hasn't come into the area before. "But the people have been clamoring for it."
The community has been quite pleased with the developments, as it's bringing more opportunities to their area. Cecil Collier helped organize a Saturday event at the Evans Plaza called "Putting the Neighbor Back in Hood." It is an event celebrating the progress and development along Evans Avenue corridor.
"We're very hopeful, we're glad the city took a chance on a project like this," Collier said.
The reason why these projects are now coming to southeast Fort Worth, says McEwing, has to do with the political will to make these changes and being able to convince developers this is the right place to come. McEwing credits Hicks and the city for doing just that.
"Her conviction, her commitment," McEwing said, "it takes that same emotional commitment of folks to say that we want this to happen and then people begin to believe."
Now believing has turned into seeing, as these projects keep popping up and McEwing and Hicks hope more are on the way.