Construction is underway at a mixed-income housing complex in Fort Worth named after long-time activist and educator, Opal Lee.
The complex is named “The Opal” in honor of Opal Lee, known nationally as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.” Lee is known for her campaign to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, an effort that became a reality in 2021.
“I think the Opal is going to be, as the young people say, 'the bomb!' Oh, just think of the people who will have decent houses,” Lee said Thursday.
Lee was the keynote speaker at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the development. It will be located next to its sister property, The Holston, which is near Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport. Mary-Margaret Lemons, president of Fort Worth Housing Solutions, said the need for more affordable housing in Fort Worth has been needed and the need continues to grow.
Get DFW local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC DFW newsletters.
“This is such a great location for jobs. Instead of having people travel up and down 35, they can live where they work. It’s a great place for schools,” Lemons said. “By having a mixed-income approach, we can serve those market rate tenants as well as those that need an affordable or workforce unit.”
The development will have about 300 units, according to Lemons.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Half of the units will be offered at market rate, while the other half will be available to households earning 80% or less of the Area Median Income. The Opal will reserve 5% of the units for households earning 50% or less of AMI, according to Fort Worth Housing Solutions.
Plans for The Opal were first announced in June 2021, when an individual earning $45,300 or less a year met the 80% threshold. An annual income of $28,300 or less is 50% of AMI.
“We know that we have a large deficit of affordable units. Probably over 50,000 of our very low income,” Lemons said Thursday.
Lee spoke Thursday about her experiences with housing in Fort Worth.
“You ever live in a shotgun house? Take a rifle, you can shoot through the front door right through the back. Never touches anything. I have lived in some of that. I have lived in Butler Place, where it was decent housing compared to what I have lived in before,” she said. “So I’m ecstatic they’re going to wonderful places to live, as well as work.”
Construction will take about two years. Fort Worth Housing Solutions expects to open The Opal in spring 2025.