Redevelopment plans are moving forward with the now vacant Butler Place in Fort Worth, which served as a public housing community for decades.
Butler Place was built in 1939 and opened in 1942, later expanding in the 1960s. It was named after Henry Butler, a Civil War veteran and the first African-American teacher in Fort Worth’s school system and one of 52 Public Works Administration (WPA) projects for low-income housing under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The 42-acre property with more than 400 units is now vacant after all its residents relocated to new apartment homes around the city through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program.
Sonya Barnette, Deputy Director and Senior Vice President, Housing & Client Services with Fort Worth Housing Solutions, said the organization began conducting workshops in September 2019 to discuss redevelopment plans.
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“Everybody has some level of interest in Butler Place apartments,” Barnette said. “A lot of the individuals who participated in this session said that there needs to be some kind of mixed-use residential, commercial office space. There was a lot of talk about some kind of educational facilities, institution going there.”
During a virtual meeting Wednesday, Barnette said the primary concern is balancing the preservation of Butler Place’s history while also looking toward the future. Part of the proposal by Fort Worth Housing Solutions includes using a portion of the southeastern area of the property for amphitheater space.
Mary-Margaret Lemons, president of Fort Worth Housing Solutions, said they want to focus on considering which parts of the property can be retained and used in ways to invite the community back to the property.
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“I thought how under-utilized has this piece of Butler has this been, as of recently?” Lemons said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could share this space with the community and host events? Have it be an amphitheater, an outdoor amphitheater to host a variety of events.”
Fort Worth Housing Solutions is also working with the city on designating certain portions of the property as historical landmarks, including the former Carver-Hamilton Elementary School building.
Fernando Costa, assistant city manager for Fort Worth, said an informal report on the proposal will be discussed at the city council’s work session on Tuesday, Sept. 6.