Public workshops discussing the future of Butler Place, a 42-acre public housing property near Downtown Fort Worth, are planned for next week.
The two meetings are being led by the city of Fort Worth on behalf of Fort Worth Housing Solutions. Housing authority president Mary-Margaret Lemons tells NBC 5, Butler Place was built in the 1940's and developed to provide affordable housing for low income residents in Fort Worth.
For nearly two years, Butler Place residents have been relocating to apartment communities of their choice in neighborhoods across the city with better access to jobs, grocery stores, and other amenities.
Lemons said this is part of a process known as a 'RAD' conversion.
"RAD is a program that HUD rolled out in 2012. It's the rental assistance demonstration project and we are developing communities across Fort Worth and making those new complexes available to our Butler tenants," she explained.
Lemons said of the 412 units at Butler Place, about 160 are still occupied. They expect about 50 families to relocate by the end of December, with all residents relocated by the end of 2020.
Fatima Fairris has lived at Butler Place for about nine years with her son. They plan to move in December.
"When I first moved in, I loved it. I liked it here. It was nice. It was quiet. Now, since I’ve been here for this long, I’m ready to go somewhere bigger and better for my child," Fairris said. "There’s a lot of gangs here, a lot of shooting, a lot of drugs – all of this over here. I’m scared for him. I’m scared for him walking out my house and next, you know, I have to go to the morgue and see his body.
Once all residents are relocated, Fort Worth Housing Solutions will no longer receive HUD funds to manage the property. Costs related to the management and operation will be on them.
Lemons said the purpose of the workshops next week is to allow focus groups to provide feedback on what could be the best and highest use of the land. They have not committed to one type of development, nor does it have be residential, she told NBC 5.
"A campus type setting for a new business to come in town, mixed use is always really popular these days. I think we could see anything happen these days. It's a really great piece of property," Lemons said.
The workshops will be held in the auditorium at Fort Worth Housing Solutions:
• Sept. 23, 3:30-5 p.m. The focus will be on historic preservation.
• Sept. 24, 9-10:30 a.m. The focus will be on development.