Fort Worth's 77-Year-Old Butler Place Housing Project May Close

Developers interested in prime property near downtown

Fort Worth's housing agency is set to approve a sweeping redevelopment plan that will likely mean tearing down its largest public housing project and relocating its residents to new homes across the city.

Built in 1940, Butler Place has been home for generations of Fort Worth's poorest families.

About 900 people live there in 66 brick buildings located on 42 acres of prime real estate just east of downtown.

Fort Worth Housing Solutions, formerly known as the Fort Worth Housing Authority, asked developers for ideas.

Nine of them drew up plans.

The city is scheduled to approve one in March.

"There's so many different ways this site can be redeveloped and there's so much potential for this site," said Housing Solutions president Naomi Byrne.

She acknowledged the details haven't been worked out yet.

"Everything is up in the air," she said. "Everything is up for discussion. Our bottom line is we want the best deal for us, the city of Fort Worth and our residents."

The best deal for the city may mean moving the residents.

Across the country, the trend has been to get rid of projects like Butler, with big clusters of poor residents, and pay them to live in other places.

If Fort Worth closes Butler, it will be the biggest city in Texas to get out of the public housing business entirely.

"It's an OK place to live, if you have no other place else to live," said Butler resident Bambie Trotty, a retired telephone company worker.

She is wary of the city's plans.

"That's basically what it is, the rich people kicking out the poor people and the poor people have no place to go," she said.

Byrne promised that even if the agency doesn't operate any large projects anymore, it'll still help people pay their rent – and find a place to call home.

She also didn't rule out the possibility some people may be able to stay on the property and live among more affluent residents in the future development.

Fort Worth also is closing its second-largest public housing project, Caville Place, located in East Fort Worth in the Stop Six neighborhood.

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