Benbrook explores retail, restaurant needs as part of regional effort

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Ridgmar Mall and other retail, housing and transportation issues will be discussed at the next Texas 183 Corridor Master Plan community meeting, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday March 3, at River Oaks Community Center, 5300 Blackstone Drive in River Oaks.

North Central Texas Council of Governments

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Restaurants and retail are on Benbrook’s wish list as the town balances its needs with those of neighboring communities also hoping to boost business.

“We’re looking for retail, grocery stores and sit-down restaurants at the moment,” said Dave Gattis, deputy city manger.

Hoping to attract such businesses, Benbrook and several neighboring municipalities banded together to determine what would be best for each town, as well as the Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.

Working together as the West Tarrant Alliance Group, officials meet regularly to share common goals and pursue mutually beneficial economic development.

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The group formed at the conclusion of the Planning for Livable Military Communities study, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Regional Transportation Council to attract businesses to the area to maximize its existing cultural and retail resources.

The West Tarrant group makes sure those goals pose no threat to base operations.

Officials from the base, surrounding municipalities and the North Central Texas of Governments pursue what’s known as the Joint Land Use Study, a cooperative planning initiative among those entities. The goal is promoting compatible community growth that supports military training and operational missions.

“A big issue of the Regional Coordinating Committee is to keep urban encroachment from occurring around the base so that it remains viable and does not get closed,” Gattis said of federal decisions to shutter bases nationwide in recent years.

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For example, the group recently scrapped plans to pursue a public school that would have been located near the end of a base runway. Instead, officials favored the recently opened Medstar location along Alta Mere Drive.

While base operations affect Benbrook “marginally,” Gattis said, they carry greater weight in how Sansom Park, White Settlement, Westworth Village, Lake Worth and River Oaks — rounding out municipalities in the regional advocacy group — make development decisions.

Such issues were discussed at West Tarrant Alliance Group’s February regular meeting, where the group elected new officials while looking ahead to area development.

While Benbrook counts Cracker Barrel among its few sit-down restaurants, it wants more. Despite public perception, the Pulido’s Mexican Restaurant along U.S. Highway 377 is within Fort Worth City limits, not Benbrook’s.

“Almost everything we have is fast food,” said Gattis, who knows that attracting new businesses to town also could attract new restaurants. He also realizes that retail follows rooftops, which already favors Benbrook since several residential subdivisions are taking shape.

The West Tarrant group plans to continue discussing ways to spur development at its next meeting, set for May 5 in Lake Worth.