Date: December 6-11, 2015
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Sponsor: Fort Worth Housing Authority (FWHA), Downtown Fort Worth Inc. (DFWI), the City of Fort Worth, and the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD)
Subject Area: Redevelopment and Reuse of the Butler Place public housing site
Panel Chair: Michael Lander, President/Owner The Lander Group, Inc. Minneapolis, MN
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Background and Panel Assignment
The Urban land Institute was asked by the sponsors to evaluate and provide strategic advice regarding the development potential of the land which Butler Place, the city’s oldest and predominately African American housing project, is situated. The FWHA’s 2015-2019 Strategic Action Plan calls for the Butler Place Apartments to be evaluated for redevelopment under the right circumstances, namely due to the high maintenance costs of the dated housing, the concentration of poverty, and the isolation of the residents from the larger community. The proximity of the site to the successful downtown Fort Worth and the availability of new federal funds provides an significant opportunity for redevelopment of this site into a mixed-income, mixed-use site that can retain its historic place as a location for African American families while enhancing opportunities for interaction with the Schools District’s new STEM Arts School at the historic IM Terrell School.
Summary of Recommendations
The panel makes the following recommendations to the study area:
- Preserve several of the historically designated housing structures, finding adaptive uses such as a combination cultural museum, library, and art center.
- Provide for improved connections among downtown, Butler Place, and the Trinity River park complex.
- Construct a mixed-income housing development at the Butler Place Site with densities, design, and amenities that are consistent with its location near downtown. The panel is suggesting a mixed-income community of 2,000 dwelling units with a minimum of 10 percent at 30 percent of area median income (AMI) or under and 10 percent at 80 percent AMI or under. The panel refers to this neighborhood as Terrell Hill throughout the report.
- Encourage the creation of a new neighborhood that would effectively extend the downtown to knit the Butler Place site back into the DNA of downtown. The panel refers to this neighborhood as Station Square throughout the report. Station Square should be developed using air rights over road and rail rights-of-way.
- Leverage the opportunities that will be created by the new VPA/STEM Academy that has been approved for I.M. Terrell Elementary School by the FWISD.
- Provide opportunities for current Butler Place residents to remain at the site in new housing, upon phase I completion.
- Create an organizational structure and appropriate leadership groups to see the vision to completion.
- Support additional improvements and enhancements in nearby neighborhoods such as East Lancaster.