Scenic Bluff multifamily development gets OK from Fort Worth City Council

The planned redevelopment of an 18-acre site overlooking Fort Worth’s Scenic Bluff into a 400-unit multifamily village won unanimous approval from City Council members Tuesday. 

“It’s been a lot of hard work, but certainly, there’s a lot more work to do,” Pretlow Riddick, of Criterion Development of Dallas, told City Council members.

The council vote 8-0, with Gyna Bivens absent, to rezone the site. Fort Worth Zoning commissioners voted last week to move the case to the council.

Riddick filed the zoning case with the city on the Parkview Village Apartments, a modest, recently shuttered, 65-year-old duplex development he bought last year and plans to bulldoze.

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The property is bounded by Oakhurst Scenic Drive’s bluff on the west, Dalford Street and the Charleston community on the north, the Scenic Bluff neighborhood on the east, and McLemore Street on the south.

Riddick agreed to restrictions in the area of the development closest to the Charleston  gated community, where a significant number of homeowners opposed the rezoning, to no more than two stories and eight units per building. Riddick’s case enjoyed significant support from residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, although many are ambivalent about the large number of apartments now planned.

Belinda Norris, president of the Scenic Bluff Neighborhood Association, told council members Tuesday that residents believe Riddick’s project will help bring new development to Riverside. Previous planned development has not materialized, she said.

“This will be spark we need to revitalize the area,” she said. In meetings with individuals and community groups, Riddick “worked very hard to meet concerns of the neighbors,” she said.

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One Charleston resident told the council he favored the development, but not without a binding site plan. The zoning commission and council approved the case with no requirement of a site plan.

Council member Ann Zadeh, whose district includes the Scenic Bluff area, said she believes the development will “spark positive change.”

“I know that not everyone is going to be happy,” she said. “I feel strongly that this is going to be a positive development.”

Riddick also has been buying property in and around the nearby Race Street commercial district, and he views an increased residential base as increased support for Race Street. The Riverside area, appealing for its old, stable neighborhoods, walkability, and access to downtown, highways, and parks and the Trinity Trail, has struggled to draw restaurants and stores. Neighborhood leaders have said the area’s younger residents most favor the idea o a diversified residential base that brings more people into Riverside.

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Riddick next plans to move to replatting, where he told zoning commissioners he intends to resolve disagreement with surrounding residents about circulation through the north portion of the development.

Criterion plans two or three phases, with the first phase of about 250 units by year-end starting on the southern portion of the site.

“Our goal would be to start construction by year-end,” Riddick said last week.

Charleston leaders have argued it’s inappropriate to put multifamily so close to a high-end neighborhood and said Riddick should be required to use a diversity of housing styles.

The urban residential zoning Criterion won allows for four different residential styles, but doesn’t mandate use of all or any combinations. The zoning allows heights of up to three stories, with no cap on density, so long as the developer provides one parking space per bedroom.

Criterion’s plan calls for “three or four different (residential) styles,” Riddick said in an interview last week, mentioning town homes, manor-style houses, and multifamily buildings.

“It’s really a pretty low-density development,” Riddick said then.

Riddick’s is the latest announced major development in the Riverside area. Last year, another group won zoning approval for a mixed-use residential and commercial development at Belknap Street and Oakhurst Scenic Drive.