Revamping the City Streets

How do you build a community? How can plans, investments and partnerships combine to turn a collection of city blocks into a commercial hub, a hotspot or a home?

It’s complicated, but the team at Fort Worth South Inc. proves it’s not impossible. “The Near Southside of Fort Worth decayed in the post-WWII era,” explained CEO Paul Paine, “and in 1995, the community wanted to bring it back to what it used to be—a mix of residential and commercial. So that’s what we’re doing, and we’ve got a vibrancy going now.” Since the project began, $2 billion in public and private finds have been invested into the neighborhood, and property values have doubled.

To get the job done, Paine works closely with a number of power players in the Fort Worth area—from transportation authorities to developers to entrepreneurs—making sure investments are well-targeted and development is incentivized. He gets significant support from city leaders and the five hospitals in the Southside zone. “The hospitals’ contribution to the growth of the neighborhood is the heart and soul of the employment base,” he said.

Today, the area is attracting more and more attention. And in this line of work, more success leads to more demand. The new restaurants and retailers in the area are ready for even more business, so Paine is shifting his focus to residential growth. “That’s our greatest challenge—to get a higher residential density,” he said. “We have a 170-unit market-rate apartment complex to break in 2012. I think it’s going to do extremely well.”

It’s not easy to revamp a faltering neighborhood, but Paine proudly notes that the efforts of Fort Worth South Inc. are paying off. “It’s a big job,” he said, “but somebody’s gotta take the gamble.”

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