By A. Lee Graham
Fort Worth Business Press
A $65 million upscale apartment complex planned to overlook the Trinity River at Northside Drive promises luxe accommodations and a marina, but the 500-unit project is not a done deal.
Results of a traffic study, not to mention split neighborhood opinion, persuaded Fort Worth city officials on April 2 to delay a rezoning vote until the April 16 City Council meeting.
“The issue is the traffic study,” said Dana Burghdoff, the city’s deputy planning director.
Results of that study were expected by April 4, according to Jennifer Butcher, senior traffic engineer with Savant Group Inc., which is conducting the study to determine whether a site with 500 apartments, as well as area roadways, can handle anticipated traffic volume.
“We are evaluating what the city requested us to look at: interconnection and how it’s going to operate,” said Butcher.
The project developer is ACCP LP, with BBL Inc. of Dallas serving as contractor.
Legend Bank owns the 15-acre property along Northside Drive near Interstate 35W. Plans for the complex, tentatively named Northside Apartments, call for two phases. The first would feature 300 units in five stories, with parking at ground level. Phase two would add 200 units in four stories, also with parking on the ground level as well as surface parking.
Construction costs would total $65 million.
Though the apartments plan is not part of the Trinity River Vision project, officials with the Tarrant Regional Water District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began meeting with the project architect in August 2011 to work through floodplain concerns and drainage studies, among other issues specific to the site.
“That’s a difficult area to develop,” said J.D. Granger, executive director of the Trinity River Vision Authority, referring to the site’s ability to handle flood water.
Project architect Schaumburg Architects of Fort Worth has “been working with us closely on that,” Granger said.
The authority oversees the Trinity River Vision, a master plan to create an urban waterfront neighborhood, expand Gateway Park and add several projects along the Trinity trails.
Architect Ken Schaumburg called the planned project’s $1.40 per-square-foot rental rate comparable to that of the Lincoln Trinity Bluff apartments along downtown’s eastern edge.
“In Fort Worth, this is on the high end of the rental spectrum,” he said.
The Northside project will offer single, two- and three-bedroom units, with the average size about 1,000 square feet.
Apartment demand is up regionally, with North Texas occupancy reaching 93.7 percent in fourth-quarter 2012, according to MPF Research of Dallas. Rental rates trailed considerably, rising only 8 percent between 2010 and 2012, it said.
About 80 percent of the apartments in the Northside Drive complex would face the Trinity River or downtown. The complex would feature a small marina and boating dock, with stairs leading from a swimming pool area outside the complex to the river’s edge.
The portion of the river passing by the property is controlled by a dam constructed at Fourth Street east of downtown, ensuring a consistent water level, Schaumburg said.
“It’s more of a lake than a river,” he said. “It’s the widest part of the river.”
But some residents say not so fast.
At the March 13 Zoning Commission meeting, Libby Willis referred to a letter from the Riverside Alliance, representing at least seven neighborhood associations opposed to the project. Willis, vice president of the Oakhurst Neighborhood Association, raised issues about traffic volume and the project’s environmental impact.
Meanwhile, a different neighborhood association voiced support for the project. Speaking on behalf of the Oakhurst Alliance of Neighbors, Janice Michel pointed out that the project would occupy the bank at the widest part of the river.