Camp Bowie building plan sees neighborhood opposition

The owner of a new building needs additional parking space in the Arlington Heights area. However, there is opposition from some in the neighborhood who say parking is already at a premium in that area.

This dilemma was a hot topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s (May 2) Fort Worth City Council meeting in a proposal connected to property at 5001 Camp Bowie Blvd. A group of more than 10 residents and business owners from the area addressed the council concerning the subject.

And the matter, which was already carried over from a previous meeting, stll won’t be settled until at least June 6 as the council tabled further discussion until that date.

The proposed rezoning site is a triangular property at the intersection of Camp Bowie Boulevard, El Campo Avenue and Penticost Street. The applicant, V Fine Homes, is proposing a zoning change from F (general commercial) to MU-1 (low intensity mixed-use).

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With such a zoning change comes the ability for parking on the street, which would significantly increase the parking capacity for the site. But folks already living and working in the area say there is simply no place for additional parking.

“MU is supposed to be limited to designated growth centers and urban villages, neither of which are nearby,” said Brenda Helmer, president of the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association, which is leading the opposition.

The subject property is a vacant lot in an established neighborhood. The prior building on it was demolished. A proposal has been amended to construct a two-story building with approximately 6,500 square feet of office and retail space (one floor with 2,500 square feet of retail space, and a second floor with 4,000 square feet of office space).

The proposed building would require a minimum of 15 spaces for parking. However, Mark Phillips of V Fine Homes, an offshoot of Village Homes, said the area has almost twice that many.

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“We are requesting MU zoning because it is currently the only zoning that allows buildings to count adjacent, on-street parking towards the required minimum parking spaces calculation,” Phillips said. “Our site plan shows that the building provides 29 parking spaces, a surplus of 14.”

The AHNA executive board does not want to allow any buildings to be able to count on-street parking towards its required minimum. Helmer said the area is already “severely underparked.”

Helmer also said, “We believe MU zoning does not belong on these historic bricks of Camp Bowie.”

She also told the council that she has letters from two property owners saying that in 2004 the city removed head-in parking. She said they are arguing that to allow such additional parking for this new venture would show favoritism.

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“If you can’t park it, don’t build it,” Helmer said, also calling the project a “tragic waste of resources.”

Carla Simmons, property manager for Whisper Wind Apartments, which has been in the area nearly five decades, echoed Helmer’s comments.

“This would be a big mistake,” Simmons said.

The construction of the building would encompass the vast majority of the property. None of the existing buildings or zoning in the area are MU and with the current F zoning, all of the parking must be within the private property and not on the street.

The size and triangular configuration of the property also creates a challenge for the required amount of parking under the proposed zoning, city officials note.

The land immediately surrounding is institutional to the north across Camp Bowie, multifamily to the east, and commercial to the south and west. The proposed site will have access on Camp Bowie, which is a commercial connector, and have on-street parking along Camp Bowie, El Campo, and Penticost.

District 7 Councilman Dennis Shingleton called for tabling the project for a month. However, he said he joins others in being ready for this conflict to be decided.

“I guarantee you we will decide this process 30 days from now,” he said. “We all are tired of this case.”