By Scott Nishimura and A. Lee Graham
The old Massey’s restaurant building on Fort Worth’s Near Southside is likely a few weeks from demolition.
Don Williams, a real estate investor who bought the property in December, said Thursday he’s removing asbestos in preparation for demolition this summer. He’s been marketing the 38,000-square-foot site at 1801 and 1805 8th Ave. for a long-term ground lease.
“Hopefully by the end of July, we’ll have it down,” Williams said.
Office, medical-office and restaurant – or a combination — are potential uses for which there’s significant demand on the Near Southside, said Williams, who lives in Dallas and Costa Rica and spoke by phone from Costa Rica.
Under the city’s Near Southside zoning overlay, a building of up to six stories is permissible on the Massey’s site, if the development meets two of three criteria: a public space, mix of uses, parking garage. Five stories is the maximum, if the building has mixed uses or a public space or parking garage. Three stories is the maximum with a single kind of use.
Minimum parking requirements would come into play because the development is within 250 feet of a residentially zoned district, the Fairmount neighborhood. The required number of parking spaces would be based proportionately on the different uses in the development.
Williams said he envisions two to four stories. He’ll do a build-to-suit, but he prefers the user to handle its own construction, Williams said.
“I will have the final say on what gets built there,” he said.
Williams said he’s had interest from restaurant operators in the building, but the environmental abatement issues were too significant.
“It was going to cost so much to bring it up to code, and it was so ugly inside,” he said.
Some of those restaurant operators might have interest in being in a new building on the site, he said.
Williams also said there’s been substantial fastfood interest in the site, but that he’d rather put something else there.
The 6,500-square-foot restaurant building joins two structures. The first was built in 1944, and second in the 1955. The restaurant closed for good in 2011.
Charles “Herb” Massey Sr. opened the restaurant in 1947, and it quickly became known for its chicken fried steaks and rustic charm.
Paul Paine, president of the Fort Worth South economic development nonprofit, said he believes professional office for users such as lawyers and accountants or a use such as a public relations firm would be ideal for the 8th Avenue location.
Medical-office users generally prefer first-floor locations, he said.
The small size of the Massey’s site limits the size of what can be built, because of the accompanying need for parking, Paine said.
Medical-office generally carries the highest level of parking, he said.
“If you go very high, you can’t park it,” he said. “I think this is going to be self-governing.”