East Fort Worth Neighborhood Does Redevelopment Themselves

Volunteers temporarily transform Race Street into what they hope for future

Residents in an east Fort Worth neighborhood are taking to the streets this weekend to help energize redevelopment in their area.

Volunteers are transforming a portion of Race Street just east of downtown into what they hope it will look like for years to come. On Friday, volunteers manned brooms, tape measures and shovels as they prepared to transform part of the 2800 block of Race Street.

"This is our vision of the street," said Debby Stein, one of the event organizers.

It's a long-awaited vision for those on Race Street, the heart of the Six Points Urban Village, with only a handful of changes with new affordable housing lofts, a Fuzzy's Tacos and a few other businesses. The urban village is one of the 16 planned by the city. It was created in 2005 and, according to the city's website, there is more than $800,000 dedicated to the area.

"We've been talking about if or a long time now and looks like it's about to happen," said Linda Wise, who owns Race Street Barbershop.

Wise moved her business to the community five years ago. She said business is good but is eager to see the urban village come to life both this weekend and permanently.

"We just talk about it all the time, what's going on? Well, this is happening, that's happening," she said.

Happening this weekend, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is a Better Block Project entitled embRACE theSTREET. It's similar to other efforts in Dallas' Oak Cliff neighborhood and Fort Worth's Near Southside.

"It's a short-term demonstration project intended to make long-term change," said Rik Adamski, a volunteer.

Adamski said the temporary effort to add pocket parks, trees, grass, landscaping and more could help bring more people to the area to spur on the development.

"We're bringing in the type of energy we once had in this neighborhood that made it a better place," Adamski said.

It won't just be the block of Race Street seeing some extra features this weekend.

A temporary dog park will be added behind businesses at 2814 Race St. There is also the community garden, which was recently revitalized after vandals stole the 10-foot-by-12-foot planter boxes earlier this year.

"What it can do is create jobs, bring revenue to the street and also increase the value of people's property," Stein said. "That's what this is about."

Stein, Wise and others hope that those who come out to enjoy the festivities this weekend, which will feature a bazaar of shops and food trucks as well, could find a permanent home on their street.

"Our hope is there will be interest," Stein said. "That people will come and say, 'I could have a shop on this street.' Or, 'I could have my office here.' We have a lot of vacancies on the street, and that's why we want to bring attention to the street and show people that this is a great area."

Volunteers and businesses hope to turn the street into the Riverside Arts District once the planned street improvements are completed.

For more on the embRACE the STREET project you can visit their website.

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