Share your thoughts on the Berry/University development plan
View the development plan here:
Send your comments by March 4 to:
About the Berry Street Initiative
For members of the Berry Street Initiative (BSI), redevelopment of Berry Street has been a long-term process that’s lasted over a decade. The nonprofit organization has been influential in obtaining government funding for the street’s development. In 1998, for example, the group was successful in lobbying to get Berry Street improvements on the city bond package for that year and in obtaining about $3 million in city, state and federal funding.
The group’s latest venture is funding the city’s form-based code initiative. Along with BSI, the project is also funded by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the city of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Transportation Authority and Texas Christian University.
BSI Chairman Jim Johnson said he hopes Berry Street will develop into a corridor with an “urban feel.”
“In many areas of the country, this type of urbanism has led to creation of safe, prosperous neighborhoods with a sense of place,” he said. “You feel like you’re somewhere with a specific identity, not in just another suburban strip shopping mall or rundown commercial corridor.
Ongoing development on Berry Street
One project underway is an approximately 50,000-square-foot mixed-use development at 2000 West Berry St., the former home of Ewell Fuel Co.
Commercial real estate agency Transwestern is heading the project, with plans for a restaurant, office space and multifamily residential units. The first part of the project – a building with a 3,600-square-foot restaurant on the first floor and 3,600 square feet of office space on the second floor – is expected to finish in the late summer, said Trey Neville, vice president of Transwestern’s retail division.
Once the form-based code is finalized, the developer can follow the new code or apply to keep the previous zoning. However, the form-based code won’t be much different from what the developer is doing already, said Katy O’Meilia, senior planner at the city of Fort Worth.
Another coming development for Berry Street is the TEX Rail station, which will be located between Berry Street and Cleburne Road right behind the Goodwill thrift store. The station will be part of the 27-mile commuter rail line linking downtown Fort Worth and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The timeframe for construction has not been finished, O’Meilia said.
Berry Street has changed a lot since Martha Jones moved to the area in 1988.
Jones lives on Wabash Avenue, right behind the Kroger at the corner of Berry Street and University Drive. She said she’s seen Berry Street go from a mom-and-pop-centric corridor to a busier commercial center, but over time some buildings have become run down.
Not only that, the inefficient stormwater system has made the area susceptible to flooding, and some students at nearby Texas Christian University have nicknamed the street “Scary Berry.”
While efforts by the nonprofit organization Berry Street Initiative has brought some improvement, Jones said there’s still more work to be done.
“It needs refreshing,” she said.
The city hopes that refreshing will come by way of a form-based code for Berry Street and its surrounding area. The city has put together a development plan that would serve as a guide for the eventual form-based code, which will regulate the design and use of new developments as well as some changes to existing sites.
It’s an effort that City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh hopes would help erase the “Scary Berry” perception.
“I’ve heard that TCU tells parents when they’re coming to visit the campus to take the exit off of [Interstate 30] and come down University, not come down Berry Street, because that’s not the most beautiful area that you’d want to drive through when you’re taking your freshman to college,” Zadeh said, who represents the area. “I think everything that we have in the works is going to make that better.”
The public has until March 4 to comment on the development plan before the form-based code is written. Comments can be sent via email to the city’s senior planner, Katy O’Meilia.
“The process must address a diversity of viewpoints represented in the community at large and ensure that all parties have had a chance to participate and be heard,” O’Meilia said. “It is this transparent process that builds consensus and gives the public a sense of ownership toward the code and the future of their community.”
The development plan, presented during a public meeting held Feb. 11, gives an idea of what the area could look like in the future. The project’s boundary is roughly Stadium Drive on the west, West Lowden Street on the north, the railroad west of Capps Park and the southern part of Cleburne Road, with Berry Street at the center. The plan depicts Berry Street with additional housing, mixed-use shopfronts, green space and walking areas.
The plan also has ideas for possible redevelopment. One idea is a redo of Kroger to give it a more “urban” look, moving the building up to the corner, with parking in the rear, and putting three to four stories of residential space above the grocery store.
An issue that could pose a challenge to development, however, is the area’s susceptibility to flooding when there’s heavy rain. O’Meilia said fixing the stormwater system would be expensive, so the city is looking at alternate ways to mitigate the problem.
Putting a soccer field in the area could be one solution. O’Meilia said a soccer field can slow down flooding by absorbing the water and releasing it into the stormwater system. On days when it’s not raining, the land can be used as a regular soccer field.
But everything on the development plan is just conceptual – there are no plans to break ground on anything just yet, O’Meilia said.
“The footprints of the buildings that are shown in the plans are just general ideas,” she said. “This is a 20-year plan. This is a long-term plan for the future.”
For now, the city is collecting comments from the public.
The city began asking for public input on the development plan in September 2014. The following month, the city spent a week presenting maps and site plans and hearing public comments about what they liked or didn’t like. After closing the public process, the city took some of the comments into account when drafting the plan. The city expected to finish the plan by January 2015 but setbacks such as short staffing delayed the project. The plan eventually became ready this February.
After the public comment period ends in March, Austin-based urban design and coding firm Code Studio will use the development plan as a guide to create the form-based code. The form-based code should be ready by July, and the public will again have a chance to comment. The Fort Worth City Council will ultimately vote on the matter sometime in the fall.
Jones, who participated in the public process during the initial drafting of the development plan, said she’s happy overall with the project.
“If we’re going to go to all of this work and get these form-based codes made, I want the city to uphold them and expect developers to uphold them as well,” she said.