Chris Van Horne
Near Southside was once one of Fort Worth's most historically vibrant residential neighborhoods until it fell on hard times, but now the area is making a comeback.
Near Southside, once one of Fort Worth's most vibrant residential neighborhoods, is taking off again with a lot of investment.
Whether its a vegan restaurant along West Magnolia Avenue or a dance studio along Allen Avenue, the Near Southside is making a comeback.
"This is the coolest part of town, I'd have to say," said Rick Screldon, who lives in the area and works at Spiral Diner & Bakery. "Everything I like is within walking distance."
"This is really the heart of the city, and the growth is really going to be wonderful for everyone here," said Gracey Kent who has lived in the area for 30 years and worked for the last 10 at Arts Fifth Avenue.
"We are very quickly becoming a very significant tax base for growing this city," he said.
The driving force behind the growth is the hospitals, which employ the vast majority of the 28,504 people who work there. And the five hospitals continue to expand.
The growth in employment opportunities, as well as the numerous so-called "unchained" restaurants, has led to new and refurbished homes and apartments with a 98.5 percent occupancy rate in the historically vibrant residential area.
"We're trying to recapture our history -- not reinvent it, but recapture it," Paine said.
Over the last 15 years, nearly $1.3 billion has been invested on the Southside. For every public $1 spent, the private sector invests $13.
Over the next five years, another $600 million in investments is planned, including a two-theater independent movie house along West Magnolia Avenue.
"We truly have transformed ourselves into one of the fun places in all of Fort Worth to come visit," Paine said.
And with restaurant business booming, building on the rise and crime on the decline, those living and working in the area say its just the beginning for the Near Southside.
"It's beginning to boom, and the people who live here are very vested in this area," Kent said.
Fort Worth South Inc. credits the Fort Worth Police Department and more business activity with the drop in crime, which they say is comparable to the downtown area.