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City will allow developers' ideas for Woodhaven


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#1 jefffwd

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 12:54 PM

City will allow developers' ideas for Woodhaven
By MIKE LEEStar-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - The plan to raze apartment complexes in the Woodhaven neighborhood and replace them with single-family homes is getting closer to reality.
But the city is taking some of the harsh edges off the proposal, which residents had derided as a plan to gentrify a low-income neighborhood.
Although city officials still like the idea of a big urban-village project as Woodhaven's center, they're allowing private developers to come up with their own proposals.
"Otherwise it just becomes a plan that sits on a shelf," said Jay Chapa, assistant director of economic development.
City staffers also decided that the city would not use eminent domain to acquire land, Chapa said.
The neighborhood, which is roughly bounded by Woodhaven Boulevard, Randol Mill Road, Loop 820 and Interstate 30, has been in decline since the 1980s.
Changes in zoning rules allowed the area to be overbuilt with apartments, according to a city study. As the market softened, the owners lowered their rents, which generated less money for maintenance. Property values fell, affecting single-family neighborhoods in the area, and the apartments in the area had a 20 percent vacancy rate in 2005, the study found.
Woodhaven, which has 4,800 apartments, has a crime rate 46 percent higher than the rest of the city, the study found.
The city has been trying to stabilize the area for years. The area's decline was one reason the city began inspecting apartments for safety and code violations, City Councilwoman Becky Haskin said.
In 2004, the city filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against three apartment complexes, eventually reaching an agreement that required them to do more maintenance and screen residents for certain types of crimes, such as attempted capital murder and sexual assault on a minor.
"You're just dealing with an area that has too high a concentration of 30-year-old dilapidated apartments," Haskin said.
"We're spending millions of dollars trying to protect it."
The original proposal called for building an urban village at the site of five apartment complexes that were identified as having the highest crime rates: Cherry Hill, Oak Hollow, Villa del Rio, Woodstock and the Willows of Woodhaven. Those complexes, with 18 percent of the apartments in Woodhaven, accounted for 32 percent of the police calls and 30 percent of the crime in the neighborhood.
City officials believed that the displaced residents would find other apartments nearby. A special tax district would have been set up to pay for streets and other improvements and to cover some of the developers' costs.
Area homeowners were delighted with the plan, but the response from apartment owners and residents was bitter. They accused the city of trying to drive out poor people to help benefit deep-pocketed developers.
"I've got residents here that have been here 11 years plus," said Cindy Swieter, manager of Oak Hollow.
"When you mess with people's homes, you're messing with an awful lot."
The owners of the Cherry Hill, Oak Hollow and Villa del Rio complexes sued the city and Haskin, claiming they were part of a "broad conspiracy" to "nudge less affluent neighbors" out. The suit is pending.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the Woodhaven plan during a work session today at City Hall, and council members could vote as early as Feb. 14 on a resolution endorsing the plan.


#2 cberen1

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Posted 07 February 2006 - 01:01 PM

I think it's great. That area has the potential to be terrific. The only tough part is that access to I-30 from Woodhaven is bad. I'm not sure you can do it while being completely respectful of everyone's wishes, but I sure hope they can get it done.

#3 ghughes

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Posted 09 February 2006 - 04:43 AM

I-30 access appears bad because it's not super-direct, but the two-way high-volume service roads on both sides of the freeway don't do a bad job as arterials. And with a terrific public golf course right there, who needs to go anywhere anyhow? smile.gif

But I don't see how an urban village is supposed to be created with a concurrent aversion to density. What should be avoided in the Woodhaven instance is density of a single economic group. Too many poor people in one spot can't support many new businesses and certainly don't attract developers. But pure gentrification won't work there because there isn't an attractor like an existing village or a concentration of nice old architecture that needs rehab.

Development really needs to work with a multi-income model. That can either be done by having large-scale developments that includes incentives for low-income set asides, or it can evolve more naturally by having a bunch of small scale developments that each target distinct socioeconomic groups. That would take longer and might never happen without the right motivations.

Fundamentally the area is convenient to DTFW, convenient to the TRE, and probably undervalued. There is an existing commercial district that consists of some trashy looking strip centers, but at least it's something. A village will have to be built around those facts and will also have to address the reputation for crime by being clearly safe. But that doesn't have to mean running off the long time residents.

#4 eastchaseclean

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Posted 16 February 2006 - 09:41 PM

Interesting news! The City has been struggling for years to fix the problem it created 15 some odd years ago when the Housing Authority designated many of these apartments as "low income" public assisted housing. Crime followed, the home values around Woodhaven Country Club plummetted, and the area has never really recovered.

To bring it back, it is simply a matter of making the area inviting for people to be there. And it must be safe. The City does have the ability to help this problem. A firm policy of zero tolerance for crime of any type... and Zero tolerance for trash, litter, or graffiti of any type. Apparently when the East Fort Worth Police substation was closed over there, it didn't help. Open it back up.

This, combined with favorable zoning and incentives for public-friendly development that encourages gathering (think parks), might actually turn this place around.

Driving along I-30 the other day, I took note of the assets of this area. It actually has some of the most picturesque topography in all of Fort Worth, plus some interesting architectural landmarks. . . the CBS11 Obelisk, the kidney-shaped mirrored building (maybe not beautiful, but striking), the grand Farmer's Insurance building atop the 2nd highest point in Tarrant County, and even the FW water tank and FW Library building on the hill overlooking 820.

I live in the Eastchase area and I'm obviously a proponent of any positive development in east Fort Worth. I hope the City is doing things right this time. smile.gif

#5 vjackson

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 06:48 PM

You're so right. Woodhaven is one the most beautiful topographical areas of FW..the neighorhoods there are absolutely wonderful. It's such a wasted asset the way it is now. Getting rid of one or two complexes is not going to do it. Most of them need to go!!!!

#6 Horned Frog Country

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Posted 18 February 2006 - 07:25 PM

Woodhaven is a perfect example of why is it a bad idea to put low income public housing in a middle and upper income area.

#7 ghughes

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 12:13 PM

Even though the low income housing in this case isn't actually public, I'm not sure how having the higher income areas close by adds to the problem. Well, I guess if there wasn't any higher income nearby we would just be ignoring the issues like we ignore most of southeast Fort Worth.
rolleyes.gif

The real problems center around the concentration of declining properties mixed with some crime issues associated with having too many people with minimal services living close together.

I'm sure some of the properties are well-maintained and I'm sure most of the residents are law-abiding. But there are no parks adjacent which is a vital need for high density living. The nearby commercial district is shabby and chronically littered, as is the nearby vacant land. Certain of the rental properties were probably built below standard and have now aged to the point of obsolescence. The city probably has not done a good job of enforcing code compliance.

So the solution is to tear it all down, make it all single family space, call it an urban village, declare victory and march off into the sunset. What a glorious endeavor!
(Now, where is that sarcasm emoticon?)

#8 JBB

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Posted 19 February 2006 - 01:32 PM

Low income housing in the Stonegate area hasn't seemed to result in the decline that Woodhaven has seen.

#9 Horned Frog Country

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 05:35 PM

QUOTE(JBB @ Feb 19 2006, 03:32 PM) View Post

Low income housing in the Stonegate area hasn't seemed to result in the decline that Woodhaven has seen.


It will take a lot longer to really judge it from that standpoint than just a few years. Financially speaking, I think the FWHA waisted a great bit of money buying Stonegate versus buying another complex or building their own complex somewhere else. madgo.gif

#10 Horned Frog Country

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 06:12 PM

QUOTE(ghughes @ Feb 19 2006, 02:13 PM) View Post

Even though the low income housing in this case isn't actually public, I'm not sure how having the higher income areas close by adds to the problem. Well, I guess if there wasn't any higher income nearby we would just be ignoring the issues like we ignore most of southeast Fort Worth.
rolleyes.gif

The real problems center around the concentration of declining properties mixed with some crime issues associated with having too many people with minimal services living close together.

I'm sure some of the properties are well-maintained and I'm sure most of the residents are law-abiding. But there are no parks adjacent which is a vital need for high density living. The nearby commercial district is shabby and chronically littered, as is the nearby vacant land. Certain of the rental properties were probably built below standard and have now aged to the point of obsolescence. The city probably has not done a good job of enforcing code compliance.

So the solution is to tear it all down, make it all single family space, call it an urban village, declare victory and march off into the sunset. What a glorious endeavor!
(Now, where is that sarcasm emoticon?)


Technically speaking, Even though it is run by Lincoln Properties, I consider Stonegate to be public housing since it was bought and payed for by the Fort Worth Housing Authority. I opposed this deal for a whole host of reasons.

First of all, it is not exactly fair to others in Fort Worth that are real poor. I have a friend that lived off of I-35 around Berry that lived in far worse conditions than Stonegate but would not have qualified to live in that nice complex that overlooks the Colonial. It seems to me that the Ripley Arnold residents got to leap frog a lot of people in Fort Worth in living conditions. By the way, given how nice Stonegate it, what is the incentive for them to move out of Stonegate?

Second, I really do not think FWHA really looked at the potential consequences or did not care about them when they did it. Right now, there is a real housing mess around TCU. A lot of students that used to or would have lived in Stonegate now live in homes right by TCU. Typically they are bought by their rich parents or somebody and are rented out. In the meantime, the neighbors around them are fed up with the loud parties, trash, and congestion around there. If Stonegate was still considered a viable place for TCU students, this would not be much of a problem.


Third, it was financially wasteful on the part of the housing authority to pick Stonegate vs elsewhere. For the same amount of money spent, they could have bought some land and build a new complex for those people for far less.

Fourth, why should FWHA put the housing value and living conditions of an area at risk when it has been demonstrated that they failed earlier in going to a middle / upper income area?

Believe it or not, there were low income areas in Fort Worth that actually wanted FWHA to build a complex in that area for Ripley Arnold Residents. Fort Worth South was very much in favor of them locating a complex in their area of town.

#11 ghughes

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 06:41 AM

For those who may have missed it, my quote above is used completely out of context. "in this case" referred to Woodhaven, not to Stonegate. That's because it was a reply to Horned Frog's statement: "Woodhaven is a perfect example of why is it a bad idea to put low income public housing in a middle and upper income area." Since this is a thread about Woodhaven I thought my statements would have been clear.

I don't appreciate having my points about Woodhaven interpreted in any way as relating to Stonegate. I would not want to have anyone think I approved of the Stonegate thing. If we need a post-mortem of Stonegate let's put that in another thread where it belongs.


#12 cjyoung

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 09:53 AM

QUOTE(vjackson @ Feb 17 2006, 06:48 PM) View Post

You're so right. Woodhaven is one the most beautiful topographical areas of FW..the neighorhoods there are absolutely wonderful. It's such a wasted asset the way it is now. Getting rid of one or two complexes is not going to do it. Most of them need to go!!!!


You're right. I grew up in Stop Six/Eastwood and I used to hangout there ph34r.gif a lot and later attended a Masjid there, so I have better insight than many folks who think this is a race/class thing. Many of the Woodhaven homeowners are black and don't want the apartments/"condominiums" there either. It's a shame that a great neighborhood is spoiled by the sheer volume of units. I think at least half the the units should be destroyed and those left behind should be remodeled into retirement communities.

My wife and I looked very hard at Woodhaven and White Lake Hills and in the end the potential of getting a large home on a golf course lot in a scenic neighborhood was out weighed by the elements that are just south of the neighborhood. dry.gif

#13 cjyoung

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 09:58 AM

QUOTE(JBB @ Feb 19 2006, 01:32 PM) View Post

Low income housing in the Stonegate area hasn't seemed to result in the decline that Woodhaven has seen.



Woodhaven borders the 'hood, so naturally it would be a part of the natural migration of folks out of Stop Six/Eastwood.

#14 Horned Frog Country

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:18 PM

QUOTE(ghughes @ Feb 28 2006, 08:41 AM) View Post

For those who may have missed it, my quote above is used completely out of context. "in this case" referred to Woodhaven, not to Stonegate. That's because it was a reply to Horned Frog's statement: "Woodhaven is a perfect example of why is it a bad idea to put low income public housing in a middle and upper income area." Since this is a thread about Woodhaven I thought my statements would have been clear.

I don't appreciate having my points about Woodhaven interpreted in any way as relating to Stonegate. I would not want to have anyone think I approved of the Stonegate thing. If we need a post-mortem of Stonegate let's put that in another thread where it belongs.



I am sorry about the misunderstanding of which complex you were referring to. It certainly was not my intention of characterizing you defending what happened at Stonegate when you were not defending it. Considering that the person I had responded to earlier had mentioned Stonegate as being successful and you not mentioning Woodhaven specifically, I thought you were referring to Stonegate. In any event, I would not be offended in the least if you deleted my post that referred to you defending Stonegate just clarify things.

I totally agree with you that there should be a separate thread for Stonegate if Stonegate is going to be the primary topic of discussion.




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