Hotel Debate Raises Questions Over Future of Fort Worth's West Magnolia Avenue

If Fort Worth is Funkytown, then West Magnolia Avenue is the heartbeat of the funkiness.

The Near South Side neighborhood has been developing quickly over the past ten-plus years.

But a new plan to bring a six-story hotel there is raising questions about what the neighborhood's future should be.

A look around the room at The Space off West Magnolia on Tuesday afternoon showed food, clothing and jewelry, that was all Fort Worth.

The wares from various local businesses were on display at an open house for the event space, bringing together the best of the growing character of Fort Worth.

And really, that's what Magnolia does.

"It's a street that's really born and bred and fed all by locals," said Jarred Rice, General Manager of Kent Co. & The Space.

So the locals are protective of what comes next, especially on the corner of West Magnolia Avenue and South Henderson Street. There’s a rare open plot of land there, now designated for a new 138-room hotel with condos attached and a parking garage across the street.

"Something's going to go there and I have no objection to that. It's just a matter of 'what are you going to do?'" said neighbor Michael Harris.

Like many neighbors, Harris is worried about storm water runoff in an area where the aging infrastructure is already tested, as well as parking and traffic challenges.

"I have ridden in an ambulance to go up to that hospital, so I know," Harris said.

But with city council approval in hand, the project is moving forward.

"It's been an evolution," said Mike Brennan, Planning Director for Near Southside, Inc.

The company helped revitalize the area from a period of blight just over ten years ago.

"Completely vacant, holes in the roof," Brennan said, pointing to one redeveloped building.

Brennan sees the hotel project as the next step to bring more people to discover Fort Worth's funky future.

"We'll always have that character," Brennan said.

To give you an idea of how much the neighborhood has changed, around a decade ago, you could buy land to develop there for less than $10 a square foot.

Now that same land costs 30 to 40 dollars per square foot, and more expensive land often means larger developments.

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