A. Lee Graham
The West Seventh Street corridor could gain new housing options if a $50 million plan to add townhomes and apartments reaches fruition. With City Council tax incentive approval, Greystar Real Estates Partners LLC would snap up 24 vacant duplexes just west of Montgomery Plaza and replace them with 21 townhomes facing Carroll Street and three- and four-story apartment buildings with 347 units. “It’s an area that has not seen investment in quite some time,” said Robert Sturns, acting assistant director of the city’s Housing and Urban Development Department. Speaking at the pre-council portion of the July 9 regular council meeting, Sturns outlined proposed tax breaks for the Linwood neighborhood project. The city is expected to consider abating up to 70 percent in city property taxes on the incremental value of real property investment for a 10-year period. That would save the company $1.9 million out of $2.7 million total taxes generated in those 10 years. Fort Worth would gain $827,893 in property tax revenue in that period. About $200,000 in city permit fees would be waived, as well. The savings would help South Carolina-based Greystar replace storm and sanitary sewers and other existing infrastructure not designed to accommodate such a dense development. The City Council is expected to consider approving the tax proposal at its July 16 regular meeting. “We’re challenged because we’re developing at a higher density,” said Phillip Poole, principal at TownSite Co. of Fort Worth, acting as a project consultant for Greystar on the project. TownSite has worked with GreyStar on a project in San Antonio, but the Linwood plan would mark the company’s first Fort Worth foray. “Lots of these utilities were put in many years ago,” Poole said. In return for the tax savings, Greystar would agree to complete the project with the greater of 30 percent, or $10.5 million, of its construction budget with Fort Worth contractors and the greater of 25 percent, or $8.7 million, with Fort Worth minority- and women-owned businesses. It also would agree to spend the greater of 30 percent, or $70,050, of its services and supply budget with Fort Worth companies annually, and the greater of 25 percent, or $58,375 of that budget with, minority- and women-owned businesses annually. The project area encompasses 5.1 acres between Carroll and Foch streets and Azalea Avenue and Merrimac Street just west of the SuperTarget store anchoring the retail complex north of West Seventh Street. The parcel is currently valued at $900,000, a sum that Poole said would skyrocket with a $50 million investment promising not only apartment and townhomes – many with front yards and tree-lined streets – but also a new public park known as First Flight Park; a new pavilion at Linwood Park; a parking lot shared by neighbor Fellowship Church; and sidewalks. “It’s a different kind of design than the rest of West Seventh where there’s residential on top of retail,” Poole said. “This is more of an integration with the neighborhood with tree-lined streets, that sort of thing,” Poole said. Asked whether demographic studies were conducted to confirm tenant interest, and Poole pointed to national studies finding demand among younger and older men and women seeking homes with minimal yard upkeep but located in bustling urban villages. “What’s occurred with a lot of developers is the more you can get into an urban sector with walkability … that’s important,” Poole said. Greystar is developing the project and is securing construction financing for a development expected to reach construction shortly after the deal closes, which is expected to occur in mid-August. The development would be completed in January 2015. After scouring the area for potential land, Greystar chose the Linwood tract because of its five-acre size and proximity to the mixed-use West Seventh Street area, Poole said. Greystar officials met with Linwood homeowners to explain their plans. Among amenities residents requested were parking and a public park. “First Flight Park will be a key addition,” Sturns said of a park that would honor the city’s aviation history. About 935 residents lived in Linwood in 2010, according to 2010 information from online information resource City-Data. Linwood extends from West Seventh Street on the south to just north of Shamrock Avenue and from just west of University Drive to just east of Jacksboro Highway. The median rent was $628 in 2010 compared to the city’s $626 average rent, according to online information resource City-Data.